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Leading Research Universities in a Competitive World

ROBERT LACROIX
LOUIS MAHEU
Translated by Paul Klassen
Copyright Date: 2015
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1287h59
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    Leading Research Universities in a Competitive World
    Book Description:

    Although research universities represent only fifteen to twenty per cent of national university systems worldwide, they provide the bulk of fundamental research and doctoral training. Written by two veteran university administrators, Leading Research Universities in a Competitive World focuses on the international ranking systems’ uneven distribution of these institutions in industrialized countries, and the organizational factors affecting their efficacy, prestige, and performance. Robert Lacroix and Louis Maheu argue that research universities, despite being embedded within academia’s mindset and rules, have to master market influences and relationships in order to produce new knowledge and attract the rare talent and limited financial assets required for successful research and education activities. Comparing the configuration of higher education systems in the US, UK, France, and Canada, the authors outline the ways in which research universities, which need public funding and have to engage diverse forms of state regulation, may possess sufficient autonomy to behave as independent actors. They demonstrate that reaching an equilibrium between autonomy and state regulation, though challenging, is an essential element in the success of high performing research universities. Leading Research Universities in a Competitive World illuminates the operation of these institutions through substantive quantitative and qualitative datasets to address the fundamental question of why universities perform differently.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8483-9
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. TABLES
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Robert Lacroix and Louis Maheu
  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-2)
    Robert Lacroix and Louis Maheu
  6. 1 THE EMERGENCE OF THE RESEARCH UNIVERSITY
    (pp. 3-11)

    Research universities are a recent phenomenon. For many centuries, until the time of the industrial revolution, universities played only a limited role in training the workforce and developing production techniques. Few in number, and attended by a minuscule proportion of the population, they were places that provided training to practitioners of the liberal professions and to clerks, in government and the church, and that safeguarded and transmitted the legacy of learning.

    Research, as an experimental procedure conducted in a spirit of discovery, first appeared in German universities in the nineteenth century, notably guided by the ideas of Humboldt. However, this...

  7. 2 UNIVERSITY RANKINGS
    (pp. 12-35)

    Since our ultimate goal is to obtain a broad overview of world-class universities and explain their international distribution, we need a reasonably accurate picture of what and where they are. In this chapter, we will take a look at university rankings to gain a better understanding of their rationale, their relevance, and their relative value. This information will provide the basis for the choice of the two international ranking systems we will subsequently use.

    Over the course of the twentieth century, and more particularly after the Second World War, the roles played by universities in the industrialized nations changed substantially....

  8. 3 THE INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION
    (pp. 36-47)

    In this chapter we turn our attention to an entirely different dimension of the international rankings of the best research universities: their distribution by country. We immediately note that the United States has dominated these classifications from the beginning. This raises a number of questions. Is the United States truly as dominant as the data suggest? Are these results primarily attributable to the US’s large population and relative wealth? How should we understand the positions of the other countries? To answer these questions, we must begin by building an explanatory model and then empirically testing its predictions.

    According to the...

  9. 4 THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM IN THE UNITED STATES
    (pp. 48-84)

    In the previous chapter we compared the performance of six industrialized countries with that of the United States, which we had chosen as a benchmark. But how does the United States compare with this subset of the main industrialized countries?

    The population of the United States represents 45 per cent of the total population of the seven selected countries, its GDP amounts to 48 per cent of theirs, and its economic density is 55 per cent. It appears perfectly reasonable that fully 50 per cent of the world-class universities in the countries of our sample should be located there, but...

  10. 5 THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
    (pp. 85-117)

    Research universities in the United Kingdom¹ are unique. According to our model of the distribution of research universities by country as a function of macroeconomic variables, only the United Kingdom is overrepresented in the highest categories of the ARWU and THES rankings. This result is all the more surprising because this performance even bests that of US research universities in the top echelons of these rankings.

    Therefore, we will look more closely at the conditions under which institutions of higher education, and particularly universities, operate in the United Kingdom. This should allow us to identify the specific characteristics of this...

  11. 6 THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM IN CANADA
    (pp. 118-157)

    In previous chapters we have seen that there are marked differences between countries in their ability to produce world-class universities, even when their situation is normalized to account for the broad macroeconomic factors that play an important role in the demand for a highly skilled workforce and new ideas. We then examined the institutional and organizational characteristics of the functioning of US universities to identify a subset of features that might contribute to their standing among the best world-class research universities. In the previous chapter we underscored the importance of the institutional and organizational arrangements that have helped UK research...

  12. 7 THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM IN FRANCE
    (pp. 158-195)

    The history and characteristics of France’s university system – which play such an important role in determining the positioning of French research universities in the leading international rankings, ARWU and THES – are quite unique. Recall that, from the perspective of the macroeconomic indicators we presented in chapter 3, there are quite a few French universities in these rankings, but most striking is the underperformance of these French universities in the highest categories of the top 200, top 100, and top 50 world-class institutions, regardless of which ranking system is used.

    As we did for the other university systems, we will review...

  13. 8 A BROADER ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK
    (pp. 196-218)

    An initial examination of how international rankings have distributed leading research universities across countries reveals the limitations of our analytical model, which fails to fully explain this dispersal. Therefore, we will significantly deepen and broaden our analytical approach.

    We will also draw more systematic and comprehensive conclusions from data we have already collected. Using various descriptive attributes of the four university systems examined above, we propose an expanded analytical framework for explaining the factors and conditions that allow the research universities of any given system to place among the best in the world. We will also strive to shed some...

  14. 9 CONCLUSION: THE FUTURE OF RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES
    (pp. 219-244)

    We conclude this analysis with a look at some of the major challenges that will undeniably shape the immediate future of research universities. The situation in the United States – which has served as our benchmark – and in Canada, with which we are most familiar, will provide us with points of reference. However, many of the challenges discussed below extend beyond the boundaries of the US and Canadian university systems as they confront the missions of research universities within contemporary knowledge-based societies.

    Research universities do not develop in isolation and they are not the only higher education institutions that matter. Rather,...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 245-258)
  16. REFERENCES
    (pp. 259-268)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 269-282)