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PhD defence

University Governance from an Agency Theory Perspective: Opening the Black Box

  • M.E. Alarcón Bravo
Thursday 9 April 2020
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


The aim of this research is to contribute to the academic discussion on the problem universities face regarding their capacity to function as integrated organisations. This study analyses the universities’ capacity to coordinate different internal interests based on common aims. Three Chilean institutions were considered: a state university, a traditional private university and a private university.

The evidence demonstrates different scenarios for internal strategic alignment are mainly influenced by the power balance produced between the three institutional governance components: the upper-level managerial body, the central administration and the faculties. This balance is conditioned by three factors: first, the governance arrangements that regulate the power balance between the three internal governance components and their capacity to promote coherence and alignment. The second element is associated with the individual capacities of those who exercise high-up or mid-level managerial positions, whether individuals or collegiate. The results show that personal skills and proficiency can either boost or weaken the role of the authorities and their degree of influence in decision-making. The third factor is linked to the individual interests that motivate the behaviour and preferences of those who form part of the three institutional governance components.

The case studies show three types of institutional governance: misgovernance at the state university as the result of the absence of hierarchical relationships and weak authority leadership; over-governance at the private university, due to involvement of controllers in both managerial and executive positions; and shared governance at the traditional private university, based on dispersed powers and authorities.


  • Prof. P. Silva
  • Prof. J.J. Brunner


PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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