Convergence and local orders in the dynamics of change in higher education: a perspective from Saudi Arabia

Yann Lebeau (Lead Author), Jaber Alruwaili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


The paper discusses the leadership and management challenges of a public university in Saudi Arabia from the perspective of academic managers. Based on a series of interviews at one of the regional universities established in the mid-2000s, the paper sheds light on one of those rarely investigated contexts where models of public management are arbitrarily patched on frameworks of institutional governance in the name of modernisation. The perspective of those tasked with implementing the modernisation agenda of the government within recently established universities is considered here, in an attempt to highlight the fortune of prescribed models of university governance and management in their confrontation with local social and cultural orders. A micro-level situationist perspective is adopted, drawing on the concept of local orders to identify local factors affecting the organisational capabilities and institutional status of a remote institution where the dominant cultural and social orders permeate workplaces more easily. Our unique perspective also reveals an increasingly diverse Saudi higher education landscape, and the challenges it poses to the government’s one-size-fits-all model of governance for public universities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-26
Number of pages21
JournalPolicy Reviews in Higher Education
Issue number1
Early online date7 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Public universities
  • global convergence
  • academic managers
  • Saudi Arabia
  • local orders
  • Higher education

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