Over the past two decades, public higher education has become widely recognized for its contribution to socio-economic adjustment. This paper probes its evolution in two large and affluent democracies, the United States and Germany, whose higher education systems represent distinct ideal types. The analysis argues that public authorities in both countries have liberalized their systems to spur innovation in the provision of higher education. Yet a broad convergence in associated market expansion has coincided with divergence in its modes and consequences. Tracing how the two countries’ policy regimes have created path-dependent trajectories of reform, the paper contends that the institutions associated with each state’s inherited role in higher education – “enabling” in the US and “constitutive” in Germany – have empowered different social groups to shape state action. Under the influence of investors and managers, institutional drift and conversion have pushed public higher education toward corporatization in the United States. In contrast, interventions by faculty and students have moderated the effects of institutional displacement and layering on the German system’s stratification. Given the sector’s growing importance, this analysis carries important implications for the comparative study of capitalist evolution.
February 1, 2015
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
LIBERALIZING THE ACADEMY: The Transformation Of Higher Education In the United States And Germany by Tobias Schulze-Cleven CSHE.1.15 (February 2015)