Toward the global public good: Accountability for higher education in the twenty-first century.
Currently, 30 U.S. states have enacted performance based funding policies. Performance based funding policies stipulate that higher education institutions must meet certain performance metrics, such as graduate rates in order to receive state funding. Performance based funding is largely meant to align higher education institutions in American with the market. The overall purpose of this study is to examine how performance based funding policies have the potential to shape the public good. This area of research is important to understand because the public good is a notion that, while abstract, nonetheless affects every member of a society. The public good impacts how citizens participate in their democracy and if they participate at all. Thus it is crucial to understand how higher education policy can affect the public good. A number of areas of the literature help inform this study. The first area looks at the different components of policy and how hegemony manifests in the discourse of policy. The next section includes a brief historical examination overview of accountability and performance based funding. The third section examines the evolution, formation and lapsing of the first round of performance based funding policies in the early 2000s as well as the formation and enactment of the second round of performance based funding, which ensued from 2007. The final section looks at the various notions of the public good. My study is one of the first studies to how examine performance based funding has the potential to shape the public good. This research study used discourse analysis. The sites for data collection included the six southern states of Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia and Mississippi. I used the discourse tools of an input-process-output-outcome heuristic, a policy hegemony analysis, a presupposition analysis, and a social actor analysis to code the data and to analyze the findings. This study found that the policies in the six states under review relied not only on neoliberal orientations, but also neoconservative orientations as well. The three overarching themes that resulted from the policy analysis were: government oversight, market metrics, and policy silences. These themes can be thought of as technologies that work to constrict the constellation of the public good. College leaders should heed the results of this research because higher education institutions have a unique role in shaping the public good (Pusser, 2006; Marginson, 2007). As such, college leaders must understand this role and how performance based measures may hinder their ability to do so. Policy makers must also be cognizant of how their actions may have deleterious effects on the public good. Faculty and students, who may be most impacted by performance based policies, must learn how these policies will negatively affect the public good and further so they, the faculty and student can begin to shape a more inclusive and democratic vision of the public good not just for their own society, but globally.