The Italian public higher education system was involved in 2010, with Law No. 240, in a reform process inspired by New Public Management, which intro-duced changes in the governance, i.e., in the decision-making process, at University and Departmental level. The aim of this work is to analyze the Department Chairs’ perceptions on the decision-making process after the reform and on their role. The perceptions of those involved are an excellent indicator of how decision-making processes are made and, in particular, they are better able to account, than the formal written rules, for the power relationships that characterizes governance structures. Besides the new governance, it is also interesting to check whether there are gender differences with regard to the perceptions on governance structures and on Department Chairs’ role depending on whether s/he is a woman or a man. We collect data with a research carried out in 2015 sending a questionnaire to all the Department Chairs of Italian Universities. In general, the decision-making process in the post-reform does not seem to implement a pure model of New Public Man-agement, since verticalization appears contained and checks and balances are consistent. At the same time, the data reveals some interesting (even if limited) gender differences, both in governance structures and in the assessment of De-partment Chairs’ role.
Keywords: University governance, Gender differences, Higher Education, New Public Management, Perceptions.