• Helle Grynderup
  • Vivi Rolskov Jensen
4. term, Master of Public Administration (Continuing Education) (Continuing Education Programme (Master))

Freedom changing

This Master thesis is a case study of political reforms implementation in School of Culture and Society (IKS) on the Faculty of Arts at Aarhus University. The reforms we have had our focus on are: the study progress and the dimensioning model. Using the model of the Parliamentary Chain of Governance we have analysed three levels: the political level, university level and department level. We investigated what challenges are when implementing political intentions and decisions in practice.

We have done empirical research looking into documents and political process, written material on the university process and interviews with leaders that are close to the concrete education. We analysed the material with different theories within the following subjects: economy, politics, organization and management.

The political level

On the political level there are clear political intentions behind the study progress reform and agreement about dimensioning model. This is a change in the political understanding of education. Education is to a high degree used to increase productivity in Denmark by insuring that the students finish their studies faster, so that they can be part of the workforce faster. Therefor education has to be sharply aimed at the labour market and the competencies that are in demand. With this new way of understanding education, it means that not all options of educations are equally good anymore.

From the political level there are set clear goals, that support a culture of incentives, where the universities will be paid in the future in relation to their ability to get students through their education in the prescribed amount of time and educations will be evaluated by their ability to get students into the labor market. The universities will be paid based on results. There are however a number of challenges in the logic of management that the state is governing the educational sector with, because different management strategies are being used at the same time. The conclusion is clear: The reforms influence the freedom that the universities traditionally have had from the government hierarchy, because they are only allocated resources if they deliver the results and if the targets are met.

University level

In the second part of the analysis the focus was on, how the universities implement the political decisions. The universities do not back up the political intentions, which makes it complicated to implement the reform. On the contrary, the goals and strategy at IKS and Arts are not in harmony with the political intentions . Analysis shows that implementation of the reforms is done on many levels in the university and in different places. There is no immediately coordination between the different levels - and it seems like a detached processes. There is no clear strategy or plan on the different internal levels of the university on how the reforms should be implemented.

Department level

In regards to the dimensioning model there is a detachment of the department managers from the political intentions, because they don't share consensus. In general the economical consistency is not clear on all levels in the universities and the head of department therefor does not see the real consequences of the dimensioning model.The reduction of students are evenly distributed and done using numbers from old statistics, which enforces the detachment from the political goals.

In regards to the study progress reform there is no understanding of the political intention either. But here we see a larger acceptance of the new terms. Management is working to resolve the challenges that the new demands and limitations have introduced. Specific work is being done to change the curriculums, in such way that students can complete their education in the given time.

When we look at the department managers possibility to create real changes it is noticeable that the room for maneuvering for the department managers is very limited. There are unclear management roles at IKS because of obsolete functional descriptions. Also there is too little time for management tasks. Department managers act mostly as information intermediaries and consider themselves more as colleagues than leaders of professionals.

We conclude the analysis with a suggestion of change. We see a large potential in re-evaluating the understanding of management in general. A simple solution would be for the university to work with the problems seen by the politicians: Education has to provide concrete economical value. We alternatively suggest an approach using modern leadership models such as “the positive model” and “sense making”.
SpecialisationStrategy and Management
Publication date30 May 2016
Number of pages80
ID: 234445832