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ERIC Number: EJ777996
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 30
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 60
ISSN: ISSN-0022-1546
The Spider Web of Oversight: An Analysis of External Oversight of Higher Education
Lane, Jason E.
Journal of Higher Education, v78 n6 p615-644 Nov-Dec 2007
Over the past several decades, state officials and various interest groups and civic organizations have increased their level of direct involvement in the affairs of public higher education. The increase in external attention toward the academy would likely be accompanied by the development of oversight mechanisms to ensure that societal expectations are fulfilled; yet there is little empirical evidence of how these external actors and oversight mechanisms interact to oversee the action of the university. A primary difficulty in the study of higher education governance is that the public university is a blend of organizational components from private corporations, public bureaucracies, and nonprofit organizations. What is needed is a theory of university oversight that incorporates the relevant aspects of each of these areas to help explain actor behavior and structural dynamics. Such a development of a theory about the oversight of higher education is not a simple feat of borrowing theories from relevant fields and applying them to higher education. Simply merging theories is unfeasible because organizational theories about corporations, public bureaucracies, and nonprofit organizations all operate under certain assumptions--some of which might apply to the public university and some which might not. Thus, developing a theory of higher education governance requires explorative research about university governance and external oversight. Several studies have explored various aspects of external oversight, but there exists little knowledge about the full scope of oversight, particularly from exploratory research only possible through qualitative research. Grounded upon assumptions derived from the principal-agent theory and using a conceptual framework that is structured around external actors and the forms of oversight used to monitor higher education, this study investigated the types of oversight that public postsecondary institutions navigate as part of their standard operating processes. Guided by Ogul's (1976) work, the data from the cases suggest a clear existence of both manifest and latent forms of oversight in the higher education arena. (Contains 2 tables and 7 endnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois; Pennsylvania