January 05, 2024

Journal Article Examines Adoption of Ombuds Programs in Japanese Universities

Science and Public Policy
, a peer-reviewed scientific journal from Oxford University Press, has published a new article: "The Early Emergence of Ombuds Systems in Japanese Science Universities." The authors, Matthew Brummer and Sam Bamkin, conducted "elite interviews" of three Ombuds for qualitative data: Jeff Wickens, Ombudsperson for Okinawa Institute of Technology (OIST); Masako Miyatake, Ombudsperson for Kyushu Institute of Technology (KyuTech); and Shirley Nakata, Ombudsperson for the University of British Columbia (UBC). 

Here's the abstract: 
Ombuds systems in higher education institutes have become increasingly commonplace in North America and Europe, yet there remains a dearth of studies that examine dispute resolution systems in Asia. This article examines the case of Japan, a veritable technology powerhouse that adopted its first organizational ombuds offices in 2019 and 2021 at two leading science universities: Okinawa Institute of Technology and Kyushu Institute of Technology. We assess why these were established, how the change came about, and with what remit the offices are entrusted. We find that policy transfer from abroad occurred in both cases, yet with considerably different degrees of obligation and volitional lesson-drawing, and to considerably different ends. Additionally, policy entrepreneurs played key roles in agenda setting and institutionalization. Nearly all interviewees in this study raised the issue of gender harassment as an enduring challenge for which new conflict resolution mechanisms are needed. The two newly introduced ombuds offices therefore represent one possible model for leveling inequalities in the science landscape.
The full article is available freely. (Science and Public Policy.) 

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