Acta Paedagogica Vilnensia
Acta Paedagogica Vilnensia

Acta Paedagogica Vilnensia ISSN 1392-5016 eISSN 1648-665X

2021, vol. 46, pp. 8–12

Special Issue of Acta Paedagogica Vilnensia

International perspectives on transforming management of higher education

Liudvika Leišytė and Rimantas Želvys


This special issue is concentrated on the recent international developments in higher education. We specifically build on the contributions from the Academic Profession in the Knowledge-Based Societies project conference, which was held at Vilnius University on August 20–21, 2020 and co-organized by Prof. Liudvika Leišytė from TU Dortmund and Prof. Rimantas Želvys from Vilnius University and their doctoral candidates. The theme of the conference “Management and Governance of Higher Education” transpires also in the contributions of this special issue.

The changing governance of higher education has been discussed extensively in the literature in the past decades. Building on the classic model of a coordination triangle between the state, the market, and the academic oligarchy (Clark, 1983), including the later-developed governance models combining different dimensions of governance, including institutional academic self-governance and managerial institutional governance (de Boer, Enders & Schimank, 2007), the studies have shown that different countries have taken somewhat different paths in modernising their higher education systems. Higher education systems around the world have been transforming management capacities and governmental steering approaches but at different paces, and from different traditions and socioeconomic contexts (Deem, Hillyard, Reed, 2007; Krücken, Engwall, & De Corte, 2018, Broucker et al. 2019; Musselin, 2013). Previous studies have shown a divergent picture across emergent and mature higher education systems when it comes to changing management structures and the governance of higher education (Locke, Cummings & Fisher, 2011; Teichler, Arimoto, & Cummings 2013).

In this context, higher education institutions in many countries have gained more autonomy and have become organizational actors with strengthened managerial capacities (Hüther & Krücken, 2018, Bleiklie, Enders & Lepori, 2017). Thus, the power of managers such as rectors or deans has increased as well as the role of external stakeholders in the strategic orientation of higher education institutions. This has been supported by increased levels of accountability and control via performance-based funding mechanisms and performance management tools, such as performance-based pay, performance reviews, and time accounting. In many countries, the role of academicians in such changing universities as well administrative staff has also been transformed. Administration has become more professionalized, while professors have lost some of their powers in internal governance of higher education institutions (Leisyte & Dee, 2012; Leišytė, Vilkas, Staniškie­nė, Žostautienė 2017; Pinheiro, Geschwind, Hansen, & Pulkkinen, 2019, Maassen & de Boer, 2020). This has brought tensions between academic beliefs and drivers for change in higher education institutions, which is some cases have led to high levels of dissatisfaction with higher education reforms and the academic profession as well as various responses from academic staff, including symbolic compliance and proactive manipulation (Leišytė, 2007; Teelken et al. 2012).

However, the balance of power and especially the extent to which control has been exercised varies significantly across different types of institutions and different countries. Thus, in this special issue we aim to account for this variability and shed light on the transformation causes, processes and effects within higher education institutions, especially as seen from the point of view of academic staff.


This special issue consists of ten articles covering higher education systems from across the world. While some articles draw on the APIKS project, focusing on the governance and management of higher education, others are discussing the transformation of the academic profession and the broader transformations that our higher education systems are facing today.

The article of U. Teichler Are Academics Driven by Managerialism? Governance and the Changing Role of Academics on the Way towards the Knowledge Society describes changes in higher education governance since the 1990s. International comparative surveys of the academicians undertaken in the early 1990s and during the years 2007–2010 indicate that the modes of governance and the responses to these modes by academicians vary more substantially by country than the convergent international discourse suggest. The three major comparative surveys of the academic profession – the Carnegie study, CAP, and APIKS – are a valuable information base for the analysis of the functioning and the impact of the widely spread movement toward the “managerial university.”

R. Želvys, L. Leišytė, S. Peksen, R. Bružiene, and A-L. Rose’s paper is based on APIKS data and focuses on the development and academicians’ perceptions of managerialism in Lithuanian higher education. They systematically investigate historical changes of Lithuanian education policies and governance. The authors find that Lithuanian higher education policies shifted to a rather market-oriented paradigm. The survey results reveal that the majority of respondents perceive their university as highly managerial, which points out to high managerialism in practice in this higher education system.

T. Aarrevaara, S. Ryynänen, V. Tenhunen and P. Vasari show that in the Finnish context, higher education consists of research-oriented universities and teaching-oriented universities of applied sciences, and both sectors have a role in research, development and innovation. This paper focuses on governance and management at the institutional and academic unit levels and shows that both types of higher education institutions have a strong performance management orientation. The authors draw on the responses form the APIKS survey and show that higher education institutions in Finnish higher education emphasize strategies and are heavily reliant on public funding.

M. Marquina, C. Pérez Centeno, and N. Reznik discuss in their paper the institutional influence of academicians in Argentinean public universities in the context of external control. The authors aim to analyze how much and in what sense have the changes on both the public policy level and the intermediate level (which has developed with the creation of new state agencies) affected the academic profession in Argentina, especially in terms of external control over teaching, research and external academic activities, and the consequent perception of institutional influence. The authors find that the academic elite decides who will receive resources and rewards, so they provide an equilibrium in the relationship between the academic profession and the state and have a strong influence on the regulation of the academic profession.

M. Schmitt, S. Lauer, and U. Wilkesmann discuss work motivation and career auto­nomy as predictors of women’s subjective career success in STEM in the German context. Based on a survey of women working in STEM professions in Germany, the study finds that an intrinsic work motivation positively affects women’s subjective career success. The findings also reveal the positive influence of income on women’s subjective career success. Thus, the study shows that intrinsic work motivation and perceived high work autonomy are promoting factors for subjective career success in STEM careers.

D. Nīmante, S. Baranova, and L. Stramkale draw on a case study in Latvian higher education to understand the university administrative staff perceptions of inclusion in higher education. Based on interviews with administrative staff, the authors find that inclusion is perceived as a new principle for higher education, where diversity is perceived in its broader sense. Findings indicate that support is provided to all students, but that the support is not designed specifically for students with diverse needs. The authors’ findings suggested that none of the administrative staff or academics had received training on how to address student diversity.

C. C. Wolhuter and P. Langa investigate the problems of governance in South African universities. Their paper Management and Governance in Higher Education: South African Universities under Siege describes a situation in South African higher education after 1994, when the wave of managerialism came down onto South African universities and the academic profession at double speed and at double weight as compared to the outside world. Currently, the members of the academia find themselves sandwiched between two forces: national and institutional governance from the top, and the student corps from the bottom. The authors claim that this threatens the very survival of the university.

M. Orechova’s article Internationalisation of Higher Education in Central and Eastern Europe: Conceptualisation of the Definition inside the Region reviews research on internationalization in higher education in Central and Eastern Europe. While there is quite a lot of research regarding both the theory and implementation of internationa­lization, most of it is conducted in the West and the most commonly accepted definition hails from the research traditions of the Anglophone world. However, when researchers in Central and Eastern European countries use the term internationalization, they either refer to a policy change encouraged by a supranational institution or global education discourse, or an education process through which an international or intercultural dimension is integrated into higher education.

Finally, the article of L. Sultanova, L. Milto, and M. Zheludenko shows the develop­ments in Ukrainian higher education when it comes to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the development of higher education in this system. The last article in this issue draws on the Estonian higher education example, focusing on the Professional Ethical Aspects in Study and Internship Environment: Research in Tallinn Health Care College by K.-R. Kont, K.Rannula and K. Puura.


We would like to first of all express our gratitude to the Editor-in-Chief of Acta Peda­gogica Vilnensia, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Irena Stonkuvienė, for supporting to idea of this special issue. Her guidance was crucial during the preparation process. Further, we would like to thank our doctoral candidates, namely Anna-Lena Rose, Sude Peksen and Rūta Bružienė for their support in running the APIKS Vilnius conference in 2020, assisting with the the grants administration and support in preparing this spectial issue. Special thanks go to the DAAD Deutche-Baltische Hochshulkotor as well as the Lithuanian Research Council for their generous financial support for the conference as well as for the special issue. We are especially grateful to all reviewers who took their precious time to review the special issue articles. Thanks also goes to the language editors at Vilnius University for their translations and proofreading. Last but not least, we thank the editorial office of Acta Pedagogica Vilnensia and Vilnus University Press for their administrative support in publishing this special issue.


Bleiklie, L., Enders, J., Lepori, B. (2017). Managing Universities Policy and Organizational Change from a Western European Comparative Perspective. Basigstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Broucker, B., De Wit, K., Verhoeven, J. C., Leišytė, L. (Eds.). (2019). Higher education system reform: An international comparison after twenty years of Bologna. Leiden: Brill Sense.

Clark, B. R. (1983). The higher education system: Academic organization in cross-national perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press.

De Boer, H., Enders, J., Schimank, U. (2007). On the way towards new public management? The governance of university systems in England, the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany. In New forms of governance in research organizations (pp. 137-152). Springer, Dordrecht.

Deem, R., Hillyard, S., Reed, M. (2007). Knowledge, Higher Education, and the New Managerialism. The Changing Management of UK Universities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hüther, O., Krücken, G. (2018). Higher education in Germany: Recent developments in an international perspective, 49. Cham: Springer.

Krücken, G., Engwall, L., De Corte, E. (2018). Introduction to the special issue on ‘university governance and creativity’. European Review, 26(1), 1-5.

Leišytė, L. (2007). University governance and academic Research. Case studies of research units in English and Dutch universities. Enschede: University of Twente, CHEPS.

Leišytė, L. & Dee, J. (2012). Understanding academic work in a changing institutional environment: Faculty autonomy, productivity and identity in Europe and the United States. In J. C. Smart, M. Paulsen (Eds.) Higher education: Handbook of theory and research 27 (pp. 123-206). Dordrecht: Springer.

Leišytė, L., Vilkas, M., Staniškienė, E., Žostautienė, D. (2017). Balancing countervailing processes at a Lithuanian university. Learning Organization, 24(5), 327-339

Locke, W., Cummings, W. K., Fisher, D. (2011). Changing Governance and Management in Higher Education: The Perspectives of the Academy (The Changing Academy Vol. 2). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.

Maassen, P. and de Boer, H. F. (2020) University governance and leadership in Continental Northwestern Europe. Studies in Higher Education, 45(10), 2045-2053.

Musselin, C. (2013). Redefinition of the relationships between academics and their university. Higher Education, 65(1), 25–37.

Pinheiro, R., Geschwind, L., Hansen, H., Pulkkinen, K. (2019). Reforms, Organizational Change and Performance in Higher Education. Cham: Palgrave MacMillan

Teichler, U. Arimoto, A. & Cummings, W.K. (2013).The Changing Academic Profession: Major Findings of a Comparative Survey. Dordrecht: Springer.

Teelken, C. (2012) Compliance or pragmatism: how do academics deal with managerialism in higher education? A comparative study in three countries. Studies in Higher Education, 37 (3), 271-290.