In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Higher Education Management

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Websites
  • University Strategy and Strategic Planning
  • Governance
  • Management of Teaching and Research
  • Resource Management
  • Marketing
  • Knowledge Transfer and the University in its Region
  • Internationalization

Education Higher Education Management
Paul Temple
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 April 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 February 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0213


Universities are distinctive as organizational forms in having emerged in early medieval Europe and then spread around the world while remaining recognizably similar. The management of early universities appears to have been based on what has become known as the “collegial” model: shared decision making by the more senior academic staff, with rotating functional responsibilities fitted into normal teaching duties. In England, Oxford and Cambridge colleges (and to some extent the universities they constitute) continue to exhibit this pattern. Early universities were clearly able to take decisions that could be described as “strategic”: commitments to major building projects, for example. As universities began in the 19th century to expand in size and numbers in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere, more senior permanent managerial posts were created to support the underlying collegial arrangements: the University of London’s first paid administrator, the registrar, was appointed in 1838. But it was the expansion of higher education, particularly in western Europe and the United States in the second half of the 20th century, which created the modern profession of higher education management. In most countries in the 21st century, higher education is either state directed or steered at a distance by state agencies (even when actual ownership is private). Yet typically institutional autonomy is publicly prized, often by the same governmental agencies that seek to limit it. This tension, between governmental control (both finance and politics are involved) and institutional autonomy (which is associated with high academic achievements internationally), mean that the skills demanded of university managers are of a distinctive character, and have some broad similarities across countries and cultures. These include the ability to recognize that university academics do not generally see themselves as employees of an enterprise in the usual sense and demand (with varying degrees of success) substantial autonomy in how they carry out their duties. The tension between what academics may see as reasonable demands for individual autonomy and the requirements of operating an organization employing thousands of staff, along with tens of thousands of students, has become more acute in recent years. It should be noted that while the categories chosen for the listing of works in this article would be generally understood by most scholars of higher education, there are considerable conceptual overlaps, as the various category topics inevitably influence one another: strategy cannot be wholly divorced from finance or governance, and so on.


There are a vast number of business school-type textbooks dealing with management in general and with particular aspects of it—strategy, human resources, change management, and so on—which are outside the scope of this bibliography. Many of the topics covered in these works are generally applicable to higher education but do not address its specificities: that is the essential purpose of the present study. There are a small number of what might be classed as textbooks dealing specifically with higher education management. A UK-oriented example, now only of historic interest to see how much things have changed, is Lockwood and Davies 1985. A current “how to” handbook covering in outline the main aspects of higher education management is McCaffrey 2010. Warner and Palfreyman 1996 present a similar range of material, though it is now inevitably dated. A strongly personal perspective on a broad range of management topics—but where the interactions between them are carefully noted—is given by Shattock 2010; this is the second edition of an engaging account based on the author’s experience in senior management at Warwick University, UK. Temple 2014 covers a range of higher education management topics in a book that follows the curriculum of a higher education MBA program.

  • Lockwood, G., and J. Davies, eds. 1985. Universities: The management challenge. Windsor, UK: SRHE and NFER-Nelson.

    A historically interesting study of the main topics of higher education management as they were seen in the United Kingdom in the 1980s.

  • McCaffrey, P. 2010. The higher education manager’s handbook. London: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203864753

    An up-to-date reference source providing a starting point for further study on most of the relevant topics.

  • Shattock, M. 2010. Managing successful universities. Maidenhead, UK: McGraw-Hill/SRHE.

    A readable account, covering key issues of higher education management from the perspective of a UK research university, by a leading figure in UK university management.

  • Temple, P. 2014. The Hallmark university: Distinctiveness in higher education management. London: IOE Press.

    Based on the structure of an MBA course in higher education, this is a largely UK-centric study that emphasizes the distinctive features of higher education and how this affects its management.

  • Tight, M. ed. 2004. The RoutledgeFalmer reader in higher education. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

    A wide-ranging collection of mainly journal articles with an emphasis on sociological aspects of higher education: a useful corrective to some of the more technical treatments in later sections here.

  • Warner, D., and D. Palfreyman, eds. 1996. Higher education management: The key elements. Buckingham, UK: SRHE and Open Univ. Press.

    An introductory text with chapters on the main issues, now dated in its details but still valuable.

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