University of Twente Student Theses

Login

From convergence to divergence : the development of higher education quality assurance approaches in the Netherlands and Flanders

Bakhuis, J.J. (2019) From convergence to divergence : the development of higher education quality assurance approaches in the Netherlands and Flanders.

[img] PDF
1MB
Abstract:The starting point of this thesis was to examine the apparent divergence of the NVAO, as indicated by the establishment of two separate departments (Flemish and Dutch) within the organization in 2017, after the apparent convergence of the NVAO, as symbolized by the establishment of the unique, binational organization in 2005. The time period analyzed in this thesis is from 2010 until 2017. The formulated research question in line with the starting point and time period is: “which factors explain the apparent divergence in recent years between the Dutch and Flemish quality assurance approaches after the convergence symbolized by the establishment of the NVAO?” In order to answer this main research question, two sub questions have been formulated. The first sub question addressed in this thesis is: “how have the quality assurance policies of the Netherlands and Flanders developed in the period 2010-2017?” The second sub question addressed in this thesis is: “what are possible diverging factors regarding to quality assurance approaches?”. The theoretical framework outlined the convergence-divergence debate and subsequently discussed the new public management theory and the concepts of institutional autonomy and quality procedures. Previous research suggested that new public management, institutional autonomy and quality procedures could possibly influence the development from convergence to divergence. The degree to which institutions implement new public management and quality procedures and retrieve institutional autonomy could be shaped by historical, political, cultural, or economic contexts that may vary per region. This thesis is a qualitative case study and documentary analysis was carried out in order to answer the research question. In total, 77 documents were collected and analyzed. In order to answer the first sub question, a timeline of the developments in Dutch and Flemish quality assurance approaches was reconstructed. The timeline showed that cultural differences were already visible in 2010. Furthermore, the timeline showed that the quality assurance approaches had not been implemented parallel which could foster the apparent divergence of both quality assurance approaches. The timeline also revealed the quality shortcomings in Dutch higher education institutions in 2010 and 2011 and its implications for both quality assurance approaches. In order to answer the second sub question, the documents were coded via Atlas.ti. The code analysis showed that for the code group new public management ‘reduced (administrative) burden’, ‘customization’ and ‘cost-benefit’ were the most frequent codes. For the code group institutional autonomy, ‘autonomy Flemish institutions’, ‘autonomy Dutch institutions’, ‘trust’, ‘accountability’, ‘image quality higher education Netherlands’ and ‘quality culture’ were the most frequent codes. For the code group quality procedures, ‘regulation’ and ‘prepossession’ were the most frequent codes. Based on the analysis, three main factors which explain the development from convergence to divergence of Dutch and Flemish quality assurance approaches were found. First of all, cultural differences were identified as a factor that eventually led to divergence. Secondly, accidental circumstances were found to be a factor which eventually led to divergence. Accidental circumstances concerned the quality shortcomings in Dutch universities of applied sciences in 2010 and 2011 which had an enormous impact on the higher education sector. Thirdly, the balance of regulation and trust was found to be a factor that led to divergence. Overall, the accidental circumstances were unforeseen and led to different balances between regulation and trust. The cultural differences may have been underestimated which eventually led to divergence. Even though cultural differences may seem to be small from a large-scale perspective, these can be (too) large in daily practice and eventually lead towards divergence over time. As with the Flanders and the Netherlands, from a (larger) European perspective, the cultural differences may seem to be relatively small. However, when taking a closer look at the development of the NVAO over the years, one can conclude that these ‘relatively small’ cultural differences were too big to keep the organization functioning in the increasingly converging way it was initially intended
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:Public Administration MSc (60020)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/77305
Export this item as:BibTeX
EndNote
HTML Citation
Reference Manager

 

Repository Staff Only: item control page