Rethinking agency in university development: The case of the association of african universities

Ane Turner Johnson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter grapples with questions of agency in the development of African higher education, with a special focus on the Association of African Universities (AAU), an organization outside of formal education policymaking on the continent. Through the lens of rhetorical institutionalism, findings illustrate how the AAU has adopted and adapted competing institutional logics to exert influence over development policymaking. Next, I will discuss how systems of persuasion were cultivated and symbols employed to establish the legitimacy of the organization in a heterogeneous institutional field that includes universities, development agencies, nongovernmental organizations, supranational arrangements, and the influence of international financial institutions. This enabled the AAU to extend institutional logics into African higher education. This case study seeks to upend the pervasive crisis narrative that perpetuates both the impotence of African institutions and the stewardship of outside development elites. Finally this chapter considers the implications of this critical case study for development discourse and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Development of Higher Education in Africa
Subtitle of host publicationProspects and Challenges
EditorsAlexander Wiseman, Charl Wolhuter
Number of pages29
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameInternational Perspectives on Education and Society
ISSN (Print)1479-3679

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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