Market forces and competition in university systems: theoretical reflections and empirical evidence from Italy
This paper deals with the reforming processes in higher education (HE) from centralised systems towards more competitive ones. In particular, I discuss these issues referring to the Italian case, and the market-like mechanisms introduced in it during 1990s and early 2000s. The focus of the paper is in analysing the effects of the increasing competition on teaching performance of universities. For this purpose, I develop a theoretical model, moving from the framework of yardstick competition (YC), to describe the functioning of a competition model based on comparing performance of institutions. Then, I apply this model using data from the Italian university system. The results suggest that an increasingly competitive environment effectively improves the universities' performance, which is also influenced by other factors, namely the characteristics of the institutions themselves and of their students, and by the resources available. As the exploratory nature of the study, these findings must be validated through future research.
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