Institutional Change of the German Higher Education System: From Professional Dominance to Managed Education

Activity: Talk or presentationConference PresentationsResearch

Ferdinand Wenzlaff - Speaker

Institutional changes in the German system of higher education are remarkable. Within the last sixty years, the system of professional dominance inspired by the Humboldtian model of a rule-governed community of scholars based on values of free inquiry, academic autonomy, and self-regulation has gradually transformed to a new regime of managed education. With the rise of mass education in the late 1960s and 1970s coupled with more fundamental reforms in university governance, the model of professional dominance was already unsettled. Federal control and democratization of higher education became guiding principles of a new era that displaced the initial logic of professional dominance. After three decades of internal democracy and federal control, the system was again challenged by declining student numbers, a low degree of international visibility, and the general demand for the reorganizing of public services in the name of competition, innovativeness, and cost-efficiency.
We present a chronological and historical analysis of the German higher education field, starting with the postwar period and going right up to the more recent changes in the institutional environment. The purpose of this research and our contribution is to develop a better understanding of the societal and managerial issues associated with the transition and change on the macro-level from an era of professional dominance to managed education. We outline our theoretical orientation based on organizational institutionalism in order to structure our analysis according to institutional logics, institutional actors, and governance systems.


Novak Druce Annual Conference on professional service firms 2012 : “Entrepreneurship in Professional Service Firms”


Lüneburg, Germany

Event: Conference