chapter  13
18 Pages

The Effectiveness of a Dutch Policy Reform: Academic Responses to Imposed Changes


In 1997, the Dutch legislature passed a new Act on University Governance. The basic principles of universities’ internal authority structure were substantially changed with the objective to increase the quality of teaching and research, the decisiveness of university management and institutional autonomy. This 1997 act is usually referred to as the “MUB” (Modernisering Universitaire Bestuursorganisatie). Designing and successfully implementing policy reforms is a most difficult assignment, with no guarantee of success (e.g. Cerych and Sabatier, 1986; Pressman and Wildavsky, 1974). It is a difficult and emotive business and often the stakes are high, with clear winners and losers resulting from the reform. Institutions themselves are not value-free and actors intend to protect their vested interests (see, e.g., Scharpf, 1986). By the same token, institutions are durable and resist constant, day-to-day transformations. Bringing reforms into force often involves considerable conflict and energy. In other words, the achievement of the goals of legislative reforms such as the MUB cannot be taken for granted.