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Governance in a changing environment: literature review

This literature review is based on the issues raised by Dr Geoffrey Copland in his accompanying report 'Governance in a changing environment: thought piece'. The review includes extracts from institutional effectiveness reviews.

Governance in a changing environment: literature review
01/06/2014
Governance in a changing environment: literature review View Document

Summary 
This report reviews the literature on some of the practical issues faced by university governing bodies, under the headings:

  • Role and influence of governing bodies
  • Ethics
  • Sustainability and corporate social responsibility
  • Links between academic governance and corporate governance
  • Mergers and partnerships in the higher education sector
  • Private sector partnerships
  • Partnerships with organisations external to the higher education sector
  • Offshore campuses and transnational education

The appendix contains summaries of institutional case studies that highlight strengths and weaknesses of governance in pre-1992 and post-1992 universities. These case studies highlight several of the issues discussed in the main body of the report.

While there is extensive literature on corporate governance in both the private and public sectors, there are relatively few systematic empirical studies on governing bodies in higher education in the UK or internationally. Much of the work in this area is conceptual and the empirical research that has been undertaken provides few in-depth insights into the ways in which boards attempt to fulfil their responsibilities over time when confronted with the challenges and dilemmas raised by particular cases. In contrast, a substantial amount of work has been undertaken on the development of guidelines for governors and frameworks for identifying governing body effectiveness.

This report was commissioned to complement the thought piece by Dr Geoffrey Copland, also published in the ‘Contemporary issues in governance’ series.