Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 PhD Candidate of Political Thought, Institute for Social and Cultural Studies, Tehran. Iran

2 Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Humanities, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

3 Associate Professor of Policy-making in Science, Technology and Innovation, Research Organization for Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran

4 Assistant Professor in Planning of Development in Higher Education, Institute for Social and Cultural Studies, Tehran. Iran


The human capital theory has played an important role in the introduction and effectiveness of higher education in the development process. The purpose of this article is to study the human capital theory from the viewpoint of political thought and extract its policy implications in the realm of higher education; accordingly, the implicative narrative theory has been used as a conceptual framework and implication research as a methodology. The findings of this paper suggest that the human capital theory based upon utilitarianism provides theoretical and normative bases of an economic approach and market model in higher education. With an overemphasis on the economic dimension of education and giving priority to economic goals, the human capital theory has ignored many other non-economic and intrinsically important functions and goals of the higher education system. This allows the conclusion that the application of human capital theory in higher education suffers from the same reductionist view and shortcomings of utilitarianism, and does not have sufficient theoretical efficacy to offer a comprehensive and multi-dimensional image of the higher education system in the development process.


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