D. Tipurić1, I. Perkov2

1University of Zagreb, Faculty of Economics and Business (CROATIA)
2University of Zagreb (CROATIA)
In the global education environment, introducing new study programmes is a key strategic process and a potential source of competitive advantage. Number of implemented new programmes probably is one of the crucial indicators of university flexibility. University history and experience, organisation and administration, management, degree of bureaucratization affect the manner and speed of introduction of new programs.

First objective of paper is to present and to explore institutional framework and decision processes in launching new study programmes at four largest Croatian universities. We collected data on all introduced new study programmes in Croatia in the past six years. Additionally, we interviewed key personnel responsible for the administrative management of the introduction of new programmes at all Croatian universities and obtained additional information and related explanations. Based on comparative analysis we conducted, the main phases in the decision-making process as well as the similarities and differences between largest four Croatian universities are presented.

Second objective of paper is to explore intra-university context and to identify crucial problems and obstacles in introducing new programmes. During period May-July 2016, we conducted interviews with fourteen deans, former deans, and heads of department as well as nine heads of study programmes that have been successfully implemented. We thoroughly analysed the content of the interviews and taking the key findings that have been grouped by similarity.

Our study shows following results: (1) the lack of university autonomy in Croatia (too strong role of government and state agencies), (2) the decision-making processes are too complex, take too long and have a lot of groups and task forces involved (The average duration of the process of introducing a new programme is more than one year), (3) the system of introduction of new programmes is highly bureaucratic and formalistic, with a lot of unnecessary administrative tasks and activities, (4) strong influence of the discontinuity of university governance on introducing new programmes, (5) it is particularly difficult to design and introduce new interdisciplinary programs because a strong identity crisis of the university constituents (faculties and departments), (6) the introduction of a new curriculum component is mostly result of socio-political relations within the university, dynamics and structure of power and/or attempts to strengthen the existing positions, (7) programmes are rarely an adequate response to the new market and societal needs.

The process of introduction study programmes in Croatian universities strongly depends on too complicated institutional framework, multi-layered university procedures, complex socio-political relations and attributes of university social network. The introduction of study programmes is usually the result of a long negotiation and compromise between the number of "ruling elite" that exist in the university constituents (deans and powerful groups of professors) and reflects the power relations in universities.