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Arguing over Oxford

Oxford doesn't stand comparison with powerful American universities

By John Kay   February 2001

The stakeholding debate is about whether companies should be run exclusively by and for the benefit of their shareholders or whether their objectives and governance should include a wider community responsibility. I have argued that companies with that broader perspective may be more productive for all their stakeholders-including shareholders themselves. (See Prospect, “The Good Market,” May 1996.)

A closely analogous issue arises in the governance of universities. Institutions of higher education evolved in two principal ways. Some were self-contained scholarly institutions often with monastic origins. These were usually self-governing and responsible-at least on earth-to themselves. Civic universities were established and…

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