Collaborative Governance in Higher Education

collaborative governance

Board governance seems like it would be naturally collaborative.

After all, board directors should be putting together their collective minds to ensure their organization is headed in the most lucrative path.

However, collaborative governance isn’t just a term to get everyone holding hands and working together. It’s an entire strategy that’s used in planning, regulating, policymaking, and public management. This allows for better coordination and integration of the stakeholders’ goals .

The collaborative approach focuses on regulatory negotiation and achieving agreements in complex disputes. Furthermore, this approach to regulatory and other governance issues creates happier stakeholders and more learning opportunities.

Now, with the definition of collaborative governance clarified, it’s worth asking how it can be used on boards of directors in higher education.

Collaboration Enhances the Scope of Universities and Colleges

When a university or college board of directors is focused too much on shareholder satisfaction, versus stakeholders, they can lose touch with the roots of education.

Think about all the encompassing factors that impact the overall success of such an institute. More specifically, consider the various stakeholders involved in an institution of higher educations. It’s not just the board members that have stakes in these schools.

Students, parents, administration, professors, taxpayers, and the alumni are all stakeholders in these scenarios.

A focus on collaboration means a board is looking outwardly for answers to its overall direction and business strategies. After all, a college or university might be profitable, but that doesn’t mean it’s a desirable place for students, professors, and administrators.

If such an institution is profitable now but doesn’t care about its stakeholders, that success could be fleeting. Word will eventually spread about the declining performance of the school.

Whereas, collaborating both externally and internally with those stakeholders will reveal how to solve problems and provide the best academic atmosphere.

For instance, deciding how to disperse newly acquired funds dedicated to the football stadium should involve stakeholders such as stadium staff, the football team, and school students. If students attending the game are happy with the experience, but the team feels their dressing room is subpar, maybe that means spending on a remodel.

Or, if the board wants to build a new on-campus theatre, it would be smart to work with students and faculty to understand what’s needed in the new building. It’s far likelier that the building won’t meet the needs of stakeholders unless everyone collaborates.

It’s Time for Institutions of Higher Learning to Learn from Corporate America

All too often boards of directors for universities have a hard time connecting the dots with big business. So, their methods of governance can fall behind and remain behind.

The leaders of these institutions must look to other examples of collaborative governance to see how it applies to their own circumstances. At the end of the day, post-secondary education is a commodity. And those schools that fail to implement the soundest corporate strategies will eventually see profits and recruitment dwindle.

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