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Self, Social Structure, and BeliefsExplorations in Sociology$
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Jeffrey Alexander

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520241367

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520241367.001.0001

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The Organizational Foundations of University Capability: Differentiation and Competition in the Academic Sector of Society

The Organizational Foundations of University Capability: Differentiation and Competition in the Academic Sector of Society

Chapter:
(p.168) Chapter 9 The Organizational Foundations of University Capability: Differentiation and Competition in the Academic Sector of Society
Source:
Self, Social Structure, and Beliefs
Author(s):

Burton R. Clark

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520241367.003.0011

This chapter employs an international perspective to elaborate the sociological conception of academic differentiation in two directions: first, by asserting basic pathways of differentiation beyond the forms on which Neil concentrated, particularly the fundamental role played by a growing diversity of subjects, disciplines, and their supporting groups, and second, by emphasizing the element of competition brought forward by Joseph Ben-David in his comparisons of leading national academic systems. It aims to illustrate the role of institutional and departmental competition in furthering differentiation and enhancing system flexibility. It focuses on social change in international higher education through an analysis of the organizational foundations of system and institutional capability. It expands on Neil Smelser's concept of academic differentiation and joins it to Joseph Ben-David's idea of competition in higher education. This integrated and interactive approach yields stronger insights than would a focus on either one in isolation or as a single cause. This chapter aids in understanding why some universities succeed while others fail, and why some national systems of higher education do better at handling contradictory values and responding to change than others do.

Keywords:   disciplines, academic differentiation, competition, differentiation, system flexibility, social change

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