Isomorphic tensions and anxiety in UK social science doctoral provision

Budd, Richard (2023) Isomorphic tensions and anxiety in UK social science doctoral provision. Policy Reviews in Higher Education, 8 (1). pp. 7-28. ISSN 2332-2969

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Scholars assert that, worldwide, doctoral provision is increasingly characterised by accelerated scales of production, competitive funding, centralised administration, and interdisciplinary, cohortbased training. The situation in the UK appears to mirror this picture but scholars have long noted that national settings mediate the forms that broader trends take. We therefore examined the case of the UK’s social science doctorates, which have seen both marked growth and a range of policy changes, to explore the potential extent of alignment with these trends. Invoking institutional isomorphism, a conceptual framework which asserts how convergence can be driven by different factors, we interviewed senior staff at a range of UK HEIs to examine the activities and underlying rationales behind their social science doctoral provision. We were able to establish that, while there is a degree of isomorphism around their social science doctorates, this is a complex and uneven situation because different kinds of HEIs are subject to a varying combination of simultaneous and often conflicting forces. Our analysis highlights not only how the relationship between national policies and higher education culture can be fraught, but also how organisations’ individual positioning and history has implications for how they are able to act in policy contexts.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Policy Reviews in Higher Education
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? institutional isomorphismdoctoral policyhigher education policyeducation ??
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Deposited On:
06 Jun 2023 11:10
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 12:03