During recent years radical changes have affected universities in most Western European countries, implying new pressures and demands on higher education systems and deeply influencing the context in which universities operate. The paper attempts to investigate governance issues and the need for new strategic paths emerging as a result of changed scenarios. Specifically, the greater number of stakeholders involved in academic activities requires universities to take into account a variety of social, economic and cultural factors when making strategic decisions. Adjustments in board composition through appointing non-academic members are signals of such trends. Moving from this consideration and relying on data on the governance structures of Italian universities, the paper discusses challenges for academic institutions in terms of change in their strategic management and governance structures as well as the likely directions such change is taking.
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