Higher Education

, Volume 59, Issue 6, pp 749–764 | Cite as

Universities and the mobilization of claims of excellence for competitive advantage

  • Gerald Wangenge-Ouma
  • Patrício V. Langa


This study discusses the phenomenon of making claims of excellence by universities, which we interpret as a response, inter alia, to the hitherto unfamiliar context of scarce and diminishing resources. The main objective is to understand how claims of excellence are mobilised by higher education institutions to achieve “competitive advantage”. The paper argues that most claims of excellence do not derive from evidence and are a misrepresentation of reality geared at attracting resources. It is further argued that by making claims of excellence universities take advantage of the experiential nature of their goods and services, and the phenomenon of information asymmetry. Those targeted by these claims only discover the true excellence of the university’s goods and services after consuming them and of course, providing resources.


Claims of excellence Competition Higher education Kenya Mozambique Resources Universities 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa

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