What is it about?

The paper compares the impact of the financial autonomy of the University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil, and the University of Tampere (TUNI) Finland. Our study shows that both universities experienced the same kind of autonomy but under a very different policy framework. While in the case of TUNI autonomy is part of large policy reform, at USP it was a conquest, after a long strike and political manifestation. By comparing the two experiences it was possible to "isolate" the effect of autonomy from the policy context.

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Why is it important?

There is a large literature that focuses on understanding the impact of autonomy over organizations. However, since most of this literature uses examples where autonomy happens amid larger policy reforms, some of the changes attributed to autonomy are in fact derived from the reforms and not the autonomy. Our study provides interesting clues on how autonomy changes the organization internally.


The paper results from an interesting collaboration with a colleague from Finland. Comparing institutional dynamics in these very different countries was an interesting experience. More interesting was to find some similarities in the experience of the two very different universities and being able to provide evidence linking these similarities to the experience of autonomy.

Elizabeth Balbachevsky
University of São Paulo

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: An explorative study of the consequences of university autonomy in Finland and Brazil, Higher Education Quarterly, October 2018, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/hequ.12186.
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