Academic Governance and Democratic Processes: The Entrepreneurial Model and Its Discontents

New Political Science, 2014, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2014

Date Written: August 19, 2014


Institutional power over the decision-making process in post-secondary institutions has traditionally been concentrated in the academy itself and, to a lesser extent, in state regulatory offices. Recently, however, this type of governance has been challenged and, in many places, replaced by a new, entrepreneurial model emphasizing more control by college administrations, increased involvement by “stakeholders”, and the use of competition among and within schools for students and resources as the main criterion for determining investment and curricular priorities. This paper first describes the entrepreneurial model of academic governance, then shows it in action through a detailed examination of the presidential succession crisis at the University of Virginia. This case study reveals many aspects of the discourse of entrepreneurial governance and illustrates the utilitarian nature of the model. The paper then proceeds to consider the reasons for such a discourse to develop, tying the entrepreneurial model to the promulgation of neo-liberal ideologies. The effects of the adaption of post-secondary education to neo-liberal strictures on the role of education in democratic politics in the United States is then analyzed. The conclusion of the paper speaks to the difficulties of addressing these effects and recommends ways of analyzing responses to the model by the institutions and individuals involved.

Keywords: post-secondary education, governance, education policy, democratic processes

JEL Classification: 121, 128

Suggested Citation

Lightcap, Tracy L. R., Academic Governance and Democratic Processes: The Entrepreneurial Model and Its Discontents (August 19, 2014). New Political Science, 2014, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Tracy L. R. Lightcap (Contact Author)

LaGrange College ( email )

601 Broad Street
LaGrange, GA 30240-2999
United States


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