This proposed project looks at one of the most pressing policy concerns across industrialized and industrializing countries: university governance reforms in the global knowledge economy. While the past decade saw the emergence of global norms on market-oriented educational reforms, the diffusion mechanisms remain largely unspecified and the actual impact of those norms on national education systems vary depending on domestic political alignments and existing tertiary institutional structures. This study offers a transnational and comparative analysis of university governance reforms in two "late" non-Anglo Saxon reformers: Japan and France. Given a similar, centralized higher educational system and common pressures to reform since the late 1980s, how do we explain the divergent reform outcomes in university governance between Japan and France? Through a constructivist theoretical lens, I first look at the impact of the OECD and the European Union on reform agenda-setting in Japan and France respectively, and then examine the domestic political process of reform. I argue that though reform direction converges around autonomy and decentralization, reform focus, and extent in Japan and France diverge according to domestic interest politics.