Governance of Higher Education: Global Perspectives, Theories, and Practices (Austin & Jones, 2016) provides a comprehensive starting point for scholars and graduate students inquiring into the current state of scholarship on governance in higher education across the globe. In the Preface, the authors state that the book has multiple audiences, including graduate students, teaching professors, researchers, faculty involved in governance, and higher education practitioners and policy-makers. Their intended use of the book as a classroom text is highlighted by the inclusion of discussion questions at the end of every chapter.
An essential contribution made by the work is to elaborate on the connection between the spread of neoliberalism as a political-economic global force and governance of higher education. Throughout their work, Austin and Jones point to the growing, transformative force exerted on higher education institutions operating in a neoliberal environment. Neoliberalism is shown to warp the traditional system of governance, threatening to distort the essential unique characteristic that differentiates higher education institutions from others in society.
The authors set the stage for the breadth of their work in Chapter 1. Governance is defined and the history and various models of governance are described. A distinction is made between governance practiced at the operational level of our institutions and that which is conducted at the state or national level to assure policy goals. Global models of governance are introduced, as well as the ideas of internal, external, and market-oriented forms of governance. In the first chapter, the authors introduce the concept that neoliberalism has profound effects on higher education governance. They write, "Neoliberal globalization has brought with it a discourse that reduces the nation-state to a minimalist state and increases the power of market forces." (p. 15). In simple terms, Saunders (2010) explains Neoliberalism "… is united by three broad beliefs: the benevolence of the free market, minimal state intervention and regulation of the economy, and the individual as a rational economic actor." (p. 45). Austin and Jones return to this theme many times.
In Chapters 2 and 3, the authors detail many theories of governance, first external (Chapter 2), then internal (Chapter 3). Five external oriented theories are discussed–institutional, agency, stewardship, stakeholder, and resource-dependence. Six internal-oriented themes are discussed–structural, human relations, cultural, cybernetics, social cognition, and open systems, with a note that structural theory provides the framework for the vast majority of scholarship.
Chapters 4 and 5 discuss state-university governance. Although this section of the book describes models and dynamics of the governance relationship between a (nation) state and universities, the authors add a third factor to their descriptions, sometimes called industry and sometimes referred to as the market. Chapter 4 is dedicated to various models (including diagrams). Austin and Jones note the diminished role of the state with the onset of globalization. "The state, as it was traditionally [End Page 141] conceptualized, has undergone a redefinition and transformation driven primarily by globalization and its associated neoliberal narrative" (p. 83). Chapter 5 looks at governance models in specific nations. Short histories are provided for the U.K., France, Germany, U.S.A., Japan, and China. In all cases, the authors point out the trend is a move away from "governance" of their institutions to market driven policies, evidence of the influence of neoliberalism.
Chapter 6 focuses on academic self-governance. Austin and Jones discuss the concepts, theories, and related practices including collegiality, academic freedom, autonomy, shared governance, and unions. The role of Boards and students in self-governance is introduced. Faculty senates, councils, and committees are described as common structures in the practice of self-governance.
Chapter 7 looks at governance as process in institutions. The authors describe the typical hierarchical structure of a university where governance functions as a rational process with ideas and decisions proceeding up through the levels of the organization from the faculty in an academic unit to administration, and finally to the Board to be enacted as policy. The second half of the...