Higher Education

, Volume 75, Issue 4, pp 675–694 | Cite as

Policy design spaces in reforming governance in higher education: the dynamics in Italy and the Netherlands

  • Giliberto Capano


Governments continuously design and redesign higher education policies, and governmental capacities are the pillars for undertaking these tasks during the formulation stage. This paper considers the assumption that different governmental political and technical capacities shape different spaces for action and thus different types of policy design. The usefulness of this theoretical perspective is tested by comparing the dynamics of the policy designs that have been pursued in higher education in Italy and the Netherlands over the past 25 years.


Policy design Policy spaces Governance reforms Italy The Netherlands 


  1. Ansell, C., & Gash, A. (2007). Collaborative governance in theory and practice. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 18(4), 543–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bendor, J., Kumar, S., & Siegel, D. A. (2009). Satisficing: a ‘pretty good’ heuristic. The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, 9, 1. doi: 10.2202/1935-1704.1478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Braun, D., & Merrien, F. X. (1999). Towards a new model of governance for universities?: a comparative view. London: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
  4. Capano, G. (1998). La politica universitaria. Bologna: Il Mulino.Google Scholar
  5. Capano, G. (2008). Looking for serendipity: the problematical reform of government within Italy’s universities. Higher Education, 55(4), 481–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Capano, G. (2010). A Sisyphean task. Evaluation and institutional accountability in Italian higher education. Higher Education Policy, 23(1), 39–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Capano, G. (2011). Government continues to do its job. A comparative study of governance shifts in the higher education sector. Public Administration, 89(4), 1622–1642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Capano, G. (2014). The re-regulation of the Italian university system through quality assurance. A mechanistic perspective. Policy & Society, 33(3), 199–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Capano, G., Zito, A., & Rayner, R. (2012). Governance from the bottom up: complexity and divergence in comparative perspective. Public Administration, 90(1), 56–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Capano, G., Regini, M., & Turri, M. (2016). Changing governance in universities. Italian higher education in comparative perspective. London: Palgrave-MacMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Capano, G., & Turri, M. (2017). Same governance template but different agencies. Types of evaluation agencies in higher education. Comparing England, France, and Italy. Higher Education Policy, 30(2), 225–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark, B. (1977). Academic power in Italy. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Clark, B. (1983). The higher education system. Academic organization in cross national perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  14. Conti, N., & Marangoni, F. (Eds.). (2015). The challenge of coalition government: the Italian case. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Daalder, H. (1982). The Netherlands: University between the new democracy and the new management. In H. Daalder & E. Shils (Eds.), Universities, politicians, and bureaucrats (pp. 173–231). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Committee, D. (1998). De Kanteling Van Het Universitaire Bestuur (Rapport Van De Commissie Klankbordgroep Invoering Mub). Zoetermeer: Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuuren Wetenschappen.Google Scholar
  17. De Boer, H. (2007). Change and continuity in Dutch internal university governance and management. In J. Enders & F. Van Vught (Eds.), Towards a cartography of higher education policy change. A Festschrift in honour of Guy Neave (pp. 31–37). Enschede: Twente: CHEPS.Google Scholar
  18. De Boer, H., & Huisman, J. (1999). The new public management in Dutch universities. In D. Braun & F. X. Merren (Eds.), Towards a new model of governance for universities?: a comparative view (pp. 100–118). London: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
  19. De Boer, H. D., Enders, J., & Leisyte, L. (2007). Public sector reform in Dutch higher education: The organizational transformation of the university. Public Administration, 85(1), 27–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. De Boer, H., & Stensaker, B. (2007). An internal representative system: The democratic vision. In P. Maassen & J. P. Olsen (Eds.), University dynamics and European integration (pp. 99–118). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dobbins, M., & Knill, C. (2014). Higher education governance and policy change in Western Europe. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Döring, H., & Hallerberg, M. (Eds.). (2004). Patterns of parliamentary behaviour: passage of legislation across Western Europe. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  23. Emerson, K., Nabatchi, T., & Balogh, S. (2011). An integrative framework for collaborative governance. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 22(1), 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Enders, J., de Boer, H. F., & Weyer, E. (2013). Regulatory autonomy and performance: the reform of higher education re-visited. Higher Education, 65(1), 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Goedegebuure, L., & Westerheijden, D. (1991). Changing balances in Dutch higher education. Higher Education, 21(4), 495–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gornitzka, A., Kogan, M., & Amaral, A. (2005). Reform and change in higher education. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Howlett, M. (2011). Designing public policies: principles and instruments. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Howlett, M. (2014). From old to new policy design: design thinking beyond markets and collaborative governance. Policy Sciences, 47(3), 197–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Howlett, M., & Lejano, R. (2013). Tales from the crypt: the rise and fall (and re-birth?) of policy design studies. Administration & Society, 45(3), 356–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Howlett, M., & Rayner, J. (2007). Design principles for policy mixes: cohesion and coherence in ‘new governance arrangements. Policy and Society, 26(4), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Howlett, M., & Rayner, J. (2013). Patching vs. packaging in policy formulation: assessing policy portfolio design. Politics and Governance, 1(2), 170–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Howlett, M., & Mukherjee, I. (2014). Policy design and non-design: Towards a spectrum of policy formulation types. Politics and Governance, 2(2), 57–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Howlett, M., Mukherjee, I., & Rayner, J. (2014). The elements of effective program design: a two-level analysis. Politics and Governance, 2(2), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Howlett, M., Mukherjee, I., & Woo, J. J. (2015). From tools to toolkits in policy design studies: the new design orientation towards policy formulation research. Policy & Politics, 43(2), 291–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Huisman, J. (2009). International perspectives on the governance of higher education. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Huisman, J., & Hendriks, F. (2013). The Netherlands. In C. Russo (Ed.), Handbook of comparative higher education law (pp. 217–238). New York: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  37. Kay, A. (2007). Tense layering and synthetic policy paradigms: the politics of health insurance in Australia. Australian Journal of Political Science, 42(4), 579–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kern, F., & Howlett, M. (2009). Implementing transition management as policy reforms: a case study of the Dutch energy sector. Policy Sciences, 42(4), 391–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Klumpp, M., De Boer, H., & Vossensteyn, H. (2014). Comparing national policies on institutional profiling in Germany and the Netherlands. Comparative Education, 50(2), 156–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lazzaretti, L., & Tavoletti, E. (2006). Governance shifts in higher education: a cross national comparison. European Educational Research Journal, 5(1), 18–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Litjens, J. (2005). The Europeanisation of higher education in the Netherlands. European Educational Research Journal, 4(3), 208–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Maassen, P., & Olsen, J. (2007). University dynamics and European integration. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mahoney, J., & Thelen, K. (2010). A theory of gradual institutional change. In J. Mahoney & K. Thelen (Eds.), Explaining institutional change (pp. 1–37). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Marginson, S., et al. (2007). OECD review of higher education. The Netherlands, Paris: Oecd.Google Scholar
  45. Moscati, R. (2014). Autonomy for what? The university mission in a centralised higher education system—the case of Italy. In M. Shattock (Ed.), International trends in university governance (pp. 89–104). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. MOCW–Ministerie OCW. (1985). Nota Hoger Onderwijs: AutonomieenKwaliteit HOAK. White paper higher education: autonomy and quality. The Hague: Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuuren Wetenschap.Google Scholar
  47. MOCW Ministerie OCW. (1988, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2007,2009, 2011, 2013, 2015). Ontwerp HOOP Higher Education and Research Plan of 1988, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, Ministerie van Onderwijs Cultuuren Wetenschap: The Hague.Google Scholar
  48. Moury, C. (2013). Coalition governments and party mandate: how do coalition agreements constrain ministerial action. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Paradeise, C., et al. (Eds.). (2009). University governance. Western European comparative perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  50. Pressman, J. L., & Wildavsky, A. (1973). Implementation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  51. Pritoni, A. (2015). Decision-making potential and ‘detailed’ legislation of Western European parliamentarygovernments (1990–2013). Comparative European Politics. doi: 10.1057/cep.2014.55.
  52. Radaelli, C. M., & Dunlop, C. A. (2013). Learning in the European Union: theoretical lenses and meta-theory. Journal of European Public Policy, 20(6), 923–940.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Reale, E., & Primeri, E. (2014). Reforming universities in Italy. Towards a new paradigm? In C. Musselin & P. N. Teixeira (Eds.), Reforming higher education: public policy design and implementation (pp. 39–64). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rebora, G., & Turri, M. (2009). Governance in higher education: an analysis of the Italian experience. In J. Huisman (Ed.), International perspectives on the governance of higher education. Alternative frameworks for coordination (pp. 13–31). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  55. Rebora, G., & Turri, M. (2013). The UK and Italian research assessment exercises face to face. Research Policy, 42(9), 1657–1666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Shattock, M. L. (2014). University governance in the UK: bending the traditional model. In M. Shattock (Ed.), International trends in university governance (pp. 89–104). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Sidney, M. S. (2007). Policy formulation: design and tools. In F. Fischer, G. J. Miller, & M. S. Sidney (Eds.), Handbook of public policy analysis: theory, politics and methods (pp. 79–87). New Brunswick, N. J: CRC Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  58. Timmermans, A., & Moury, C. (2006). Coalition governance in Belgium and The Netherlands: Rising government stability against all electoral odds. Acta Politica, 41(4), 389–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Trakman, L. (2008). Modelling university governance. Higher Education Quarterly, 62(1–2), 63–83.Google Scholar
  60. Tsebelis, G. (2002). Veto players: how political institutions work. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press-Russell Sage Foundation.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Turri, M. (2014a). The new Italian agency for the evaluation of the university system (ANVUR): A need for governance or legitimacy? Quality in Higher Education, 20(1), 64–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Turri, M. (2014b). The difficult transition of the Italian university system: growth, underfunding and reforms. Journal of Further and Higher Education. doi: 10.1080/0309877X.2014.895303.
  63. Turri, M. (2016). The difficult transition of the Italian university system: growth, underfunding and reforms. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 40(1), 83–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Van Vught, F. (1991). The Netherlands: governmental policies. In G. Neave & F. Van Vught (Eds.), Prometheus bound (pp. 109–127). New York: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  65. Veerman Committee. (2010). Committee on the Future Sustainability of the Dutch Higher Education System. Differentiëren in drievoud, omwille van kwaliteit en verscheidenheid in het hoger onderwijs. Parliamentary Papers 31288, no. 96, AprilGoogle Scholar
  66. Westerheijden, D., de Boer, H., & Enders, J. (2009). An ‘Echternach’ procession in different directions: oscillating steps towards reform. In C. Paradeis et al. (Eds.), University governance. Western European comparative perspectives (pp. 103–125). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  67. Witte, A. (2006). Changes of degrees and degrees of change. Comparing adaptations of European higher education systems in the context of the Bologna Process, PhD dissertation, University of TwenteGoogle Scholar
  68. Zucchini, F. (2016). The republic of vetoes: legislative change and stability in the Italian political system. In R. Kaiser & J. Edelmann (Eds.), Crisis as a permanent condition? The Italian political system between transition and reform resistance (pp. 153–174). Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Scuola Normale Superiore, palazzo StrozziFlorenceItaly

Personalised recommendations