Worlds of higher education transformed: toward varieties of academic capitalism

Tobias Schulze-Cleven, Jennifer R. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


This article explores the changing character and consequences of state authorities’ evolving relationships with universities in the United States, Germany, and Norway—typical cases for different national worlds of higher education. It argues that across the three OECD countries, welfare states have strengthened market principles in university governance, yet shaped competition in different ways. This conceptualization of institutional changes makes two seemingly conflicting perspectives compatible: one diagnosing national convergence on academic capitalism and one arguing for lasting divergence across national political economic regimes. Upon proposing ideal-typical trajectories of market-making institutional liberalization, the article explores path-dependent movement toward varieties of academic capitalism in the three countries. The findings on the socio-economic effects of this transformation suggest the need to moderate expectations on the ability of reformed higher education systems to contain contemporary societies’ centrifugal forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)813-831
Number of pages19
JournalHigher Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


  • Academic capitalism
  • Convergence
  • Divergence
  • Liberalization
  • State-university relations


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