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By Alice Civera


In many European countries, a change from a public university model towards more responsible and procedurally autonomous organizations took place. The shift includes a strong emphasis on market, competition and related elements, like incentive steering, managerial capabilities, individual profiling and organizational learning, quality assurance and evaluation. These recent higher education reforms have often been described as managerial reforms, which have moved the universities’ governance regime towards a much more competition-driven and managerial arrangement. Yet, universities provide public services for which at least in most of the European countries no real market exists and their primary funding comes from public resources, hence these tendencies towards market and competition result at most in quasi-markets. The introduction of quasi-market mechanisms led government to implement different policies to address these changes. They focused among others on three distinctive aspects: the cost sharing of higher education and the shift toward student tuition; the performance-based research funding mechanisms; the promotion of interaction with industry and the raise of academic entrepreneurship This dissertation aims to investigate the main implications of the application of market-based policies to higher education, in terms of university managerial reactions. In relation to the diffusion of the cost sharing phenomenon, some universities decided not to modify their tuition price setting strategy, some have indiscriminately increased tuition fees, while others targeted for their recruitment strategy ‘full fee paying’ students more aggressively within the global higher education marketplace. Accordingly, the first essay of my dissertation investigates the dynamics of university competition on price setting decision after the 2008 financial crisis by relying on data from 59 Italian state universities over the period 2003-2014. Italy represents an interesting setting where to investigate the post-crisis dynamics of university competition as an example of both a Southern European country strongly affected by the economic recession as well as cuts in public funds and a quasi-market where universities increasingly compete for attracting students. Concerning the establishment of performance-based research funding mechanisms, universities adopted the strategy to position themselves at the top of the international rankings, as outstanding research institutions. The second essay of my dissertation investigates the issue of international competition and visibility. It provides an analysis of the impact of a specified policy intervention aimed to promote and select outstanding research active universities by allocating competitive additional public funds: the Excellence Initiative in Germany. Referring to the promotion of interaction with industry and the raise of academic entrepreneurship, universities became fully engaged in the spinoff activity. The third essay of my dissertation aims to contribute to the literature on the drivers of this kind of firms, by focusing on a specific university feature, the degree of internationalization. Academic spinoffs indeed are found to be more prone to internationalize than similar firms due to the essential role played by universities and in particular internationalized universities in offering networks and capabilities as well as dynamic and mobile human capital. University internationalization in this way contribute to the national economic growth by stimulating the international orientation of their affiliated firms. As a whole, this thesis provides some insights into the main challenges that universities are experiencing in terms of marketization of Higher Education and their consequent managerial reactions. Hence, it discusses such reactions extensively, it outlines some theoretical and practical contributions and derives some policy implications

Publisher: Università degli studi di Pavia
Year: 2019
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