THEME This thesis is concerned with a commercial development of Norwegian universities, and analyzes some of the most essential forces that influence this process. With the current development it is vital to question to what extent the global commercialization of higher education affect Norwegian universities as cultural institutions. Relevant questions in addressing these issues are:
- What role do the economic and the cultural rationale play in the justification of universities?- What forces influence the development of universities, and how do they relate to the economic and the cultural rationale?- How do stakeholders facilitate the continuance of Norwegian universities as cultural institutions? - How can universities defend their legitimacy without being either a cultural or a commercial institution?
Many stakeholders and processes are crucial in the development of independent research universities, and the analysis of these will be structured in four separate parts, ranging over four chapters. The first part, in chapter two, briefly touched upon the historical development of universities before some of the rationales that currently give legitimacy to universities are explored. The economic rationale is increasing its dominance in legitimizing universities compared to the other rationales, a development that can be seen in relation to global economy and policy. The cultural rationale is applied in the thesis to contrast aspects emphasized by the economic rationale in the justification of universities. The second part, in chapter three, examines the influence from global and international structures on the development of higher education, assuming that what concerns higher education also includes universities. The third part, in chapter four, is on two out of three coordinating forces of universities; the state and the market, mainly analyzed in relation to the economic rationale. The last part of the analysis, in chapter five, will explore the third university coordinating force, academic professional coordination, and its links to the cultural rationale.
The discussion, in chapter six, is concerned with strengths and weaknesses in the economic and the cultural rationale. The emphasis on the economic rationale spurs commercialization of universities, and the cultural rationale seems insufficient in reversing this process. Moreover, both rationales lack the capacity to secure democracy. Introducing a democratic rationale can secure and improve universities as democratic institutions concerned with free knowledge, a constructive alternative to commercialized universities driven by academic capitalism.