Policy Entrepreneurship as Emerging Autonomy for Universities in Taiwan: Case Study of University Autonomy on Policy Processes

Author: 

Yu-Ching, Flora, Hsu

Defended: 

2015

ABSTRACT
While governments expect citizens’ participation to improve public policies, top-down policymaking in higher education still dominates conventional practice in East Asia (Baiocchi, 2005; Genro, 1995). Unconventional cases have emerged since 2000. When most higher education institutions abided by the policy formulation dominated by their governments, a few universities led policy formulation in East Asia. This phenomenon reflects the emerging role of policy entrepreneurs, a concept derived from political science theory. The theory of policy entrepreneurship is relevant to institutional leaders (such as university presidents) and others seeking to introduce, translate and implement innovative ideas into the public sector (Kingdon, 1995).

This study explores two comparative longitudinal cases studies involving policy entrepreneurs inside and outside government in Taiwan. From 2003 to 2007, the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan played the role of policy entrepreneur to initiate the “University Corporation Project”. And from 2008 to 2014, as a policy entrepreneur outside the government, National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) took the lead and proposed the “University Autonomous Governance Project”. This project sought an alternative solution based on public universities’ needs to improve university autonomy and accountability.

These cases allowed for a comparison of the strategies of policy entrepreneurs inside and outside the government and their impacts on policy formulation. In both cases, policy entrepreneurs sought to break through the traditional institutional structure by transferring or seeking significant strategic planning by universities themselves. This study shows how these two cases of increased policy formulation provide options for university autonomy in East Asia, causing universities and their leaders to exhibit greater policy entrepreneurship and effectiveness in policymaking.
1. How policy entrepreneurs from universities and governments go through a politics stream? Do they adopt different strategies?
2. How policy entrepreneurs from universities and governments go through a problem stream? Do they adopt different strategies?
3. How policy entrepreneurs from universities and governments go through a policy stream? Do they adopt different strategies?

This case study adopts the multiple streams theory for constructing the framework. Multiple methods are undertaken in this study, including interviews, documentary analysis and participant observation. After case analysis, this study constructs propositions for research questions aforementioned.

1. To both policy entrepreneurs, political coalition is the goal in a politics stream, but they should go through a multiple-principals competition as a prerequisite of political buffering. In order to attain effective power coalition, policy entrepreneurs adopted diverse strategies of power sharing. Their strategies are implemented in following steps, inclusive of obtaining information from critical stakeholders, persuading targeted stakeholders, and devising format of delegated power. However, policy entrepreneurs from universities and governments have identical goals, face similar prerequisite but adopted diverse strategies in a politics stream.

2. To policy entrepreneurs, gaining stakeholders’ problem preference is the goal in a problem stream, but they should meet the requirement on legitimacy of identity, a contextualized prerequisite. In order to obtain stakeholders’ problem preference, policy entrepreneurs demonstrate legitimacy of content by various strategies, which contain flexibility of issue framing and acuity of stakeholders. However, policy entrepreneurs from universities and governments have identical goals, face similar prerequisite but adopted diverse strategies in a politics stream. However, policy entrepreneurs from universities and governments have identical goals, face similar prerequisite but adopted diverse strategies in a problem stream.

3. To policy entrepreneurs, creating or seizing a window of policy is the goal of a policy stream. First, they should go through a contextualized prerequisite of political acceptability in a policy stream. After meeting the requirement above, policy entrepreneurs adopted strategies to demonstrate technological feasibility, consisting of scope of reform, available workforce and option of alternatives. However, policy entrepreneurs from universities and governments have identical goals, face similar prerequisite but adopted diverse strategies in a policy stream.
On the basis of propositions aforementioned, this study provides policy makers and potential researchers with implications about policy formation and future research.
Keywords: policy process, policy entrepreneurs, multiple streams framework, higher education

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