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Working paper

Academic Freedom and University Standards for Teaching and Research

In areas of creative activity where the evaluation of efforts and results requires major expenditures, the intrinsic motivation of agents is an important factor of efficiency, whereas stringent monitoring fails to counteract opportunistic behavior. University professors are a case in point. The lack of comprehensive control and detailed regulation of professorial work that traditionally characterizes the university milieu creates an atmosphere of academic freedom that is propitious to intrinsic motivation. Academic freedom lies at the basis of the convention regulating the behavior of university administration and professors. It gives rise to an equilibrium state in which professors engage in both teaching and research, yet this equilibrium is not evolutionary stable in itself: as a rule, it is maintained by academic standards. New conditions of financing that are imposed on both the professoriate and the university administration lead to the destruction of this equilibrium and the emergence of new behavioral patterns at universities. Their characteristics depend both on external conditions (on the education market as a whole) and on internal ones (the university’s policy and the university academic environment).