Culture within higher education : a portrait of manifestations of the culture within higher education in England and the Netherlands in the post-Bologna era
Over the last two decades, higher education in Europe has received considerable attention and has gone through many changes as a result of the implementation of the Bologna Declaration (1999) and the challenges expressed in the Lisbon Convention (2000). This study is an inquiry into the nature of higher education, and 'life' within it. The study results in a description of manifestations of the culture within higher education in England and the Netherlands. The essence of the study is to unravel culture, theoretically and empirically, which results in a description of manifestations of the culture. It does not focus on a causal relation between culture and performance, but portrays culture by interpreting performance indicators contextually. The concept of culture was derived from Schein. As his definition of culture fitted the philosophical stance to the study. Schein's vision on culture that every group develops its own identity, referred to as the shared patterns of thought, belief, feelings and values, which result from the shared experience and common learning within that group, reflects upon the behaviour of the working community. Schein further addresses the function of culture, which in this study is the analysis of culture in the context of performance. The study is qualitative in character and has adopted a cultural anthropological perspective, endeavouring an in-depth understanding ('verstehen') of the culture within higher education. The fieldwork is ethnographic in character in which the researcher took an emic (insiders) approach. The fieldwork uses multiple sources of data gathering such as document analysis, participant observations, in-depth interviews and focus groups. This all provided a rich amount of data which led, after clustering and analysis, to the following manifestations: Collegiality; Tight - loose control; Up and down stream trust; Diversity and Internal¬external focus. These five manifestations were brought into relation to the definition of Schein and were matched to the external environment affecting higher education. The performance indicators and Bologna principles appeared to be helpful in proving the understanding ('verstehen') of the culture. Ultimately, this enabled the researcher to debate higher education embarking in phase IT of the neo-liberal era and providing a contribution to the scholarly study and literature on higher education and managerial recommendations.