Keywords: Governance; University Reforms; Unintended Effects.
The mantra of 'reforming governance' has characterized all recent efforts to transform universities in Europe, but the attention of decision-makers and of scholars has focused on the design of national reform strategies, whereas very little attention has been paid to the actual changes that they have produced. The focus of this paper is on an often neglected phenomenon which stands between reforms and their outcomes: namely, the emergence of unintended effects. The empirical evidence on the ways in which national reforms are implemented by individual universities is provided by case studies conducted in five European countries. This comparative evidence allows for an extensive discussion of four main types of unintended effects of university governance reforms: a shift to forms of collective institutional leadership; the apparent shortcomings of governing boards with external members; the resilience of forms of self-government; and the fluctuations between centralization and decentralization trends.