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The Active University: Studies of Contemporary Swedish Higher Education
KTH, School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (ECE), Learning.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7437-2152
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, contemporary universities and their response to external pressure are studied. The term “the active university” is put forward as an analytical tool. The active university “acts” in two ways: by taking concrete initiatives and by playing a role. The concept is inspired by theories on strategic actorhood and by new institutional theory.

The thesis presents empirical studies of a number of strategic initiatives undertaken by Swedish universities in recent years. Predominantly drawn from the technical university sector, the initiatives include evaluation projects, organisational change, policy changes and new work practices. The policy context is new public management and recent reforms aimed at improving accountability and management capacity in the higher education sector.

In the empirical studies, “acting as strategy” and “acting as role play” both come to the fore. External rationales to do with quality and competition are frequently put forward as motives for internal change. Many of the initiatives are image-driven. At the same time they can have profound, albeit sometimes unintended, internal consequences. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. , iv, 87 p.
Series
TRITA-ECE, 2016-1
National Category
Learning
Research subject
Education and Communication in the Technological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-186194ISBN: 978-91-7729-007-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-186194DiVA: diva2:926079
Public defence
2016-06-02, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH Campus, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20160509

Available from: 2016-05-09 Created: 2016-05-04 Last updated: 2016-05-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Not just another evaluation: A comparative study of four educational quality projects at Swedish universities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Not just another evaluation: A comparative study of four educational quality projects at Swedish universities
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2014 (English)In: Tertiary Education and Management, ISSN 1358-3883, E-ISSN 1573-1936, Vol. 20, no 3, 239-251 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this study, four recent self-initiated educational quality projects at Swedish universities are compared and analyzed. The article focuses on how the universities have handled the tension between external demands and internal norms. The aim is to contribute to an improved understanding of quality management in contemporary universities. On the one hand, the projects are found to be built on similar rationales associated with accountability, reputation building and strategic management. This is interpreted as a response to the shared external policy context. They are also found to mirror similar ambitions regarding raising the status of education. On the other hand, the projects are found to differ considerably in their actual design, methodology, implementation, stakeholders and outcomes. This is interpreted as an active adaptation to the unique internal academic norms and cultures that exist in each university.

Keyword
quality, management, strategic planning, higher education policy/development, organization structures
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Education and Communication in the Technological Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-161736 (URN)10.1080/13583883.2014.932832 (DOI)
Note

QC 20150407

Available from: 2015-03-15 Created: 2015-03-15 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
2. Takeovers in Swedish higher education: Comparing the “hostile” and the “friendly”
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Takeovers in Swedish higher education: Comparing the “hostile” and the “friendly”
2016 (English)In: Mergers in higher education: The experience from Northern Europe / [ed] Rómulo Pinheiro, Lars Geschwind, Timo Aarrevaara, Dordrecht: Springer, 2016, 145-159 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Among the recent mergers in Swedish higher education, two have been takeovers, where the smaller party has been fully integrated into the larger party. These are, firstly, the takeover of Stockholm Institute of Education by Stockholm University in 2008 and, secondly, the takeover of Gotland University College by Uppsala University in 2013. Our comparative analysis of the two mergers shows that the main drivers and rationales, as well as the implementation, differ substantially. Whereas the former was a conflict-ridden process driven by a national political agenda and ideological disagreement on quality, the latter was a more proactive, reciprocal process driven principally by financial and personal motives at the institutional level. As such, the processes can be labelled “hostile” and “friendly”, respectively. Beyond this categorisation, however, the cases are found to carry more complexity. Depending on how “success” is defined, both processes have had some positive short- and mid-term effects. This partly contradicts previous studies identifying e.g. lengthy consolidation phases and cultural compatibility as success factors. Both cases point to the role of the state and the importance of the political context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Dordrecht: Springer, 2016
Series
Higher Education Dynamics, ISSN 1571-0378 ; 46
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-185762 (URN)10.1007/978-3-319-21918-9_9 (DOI)978-3-319-21917-2 (ISBN)
Note

QC 20160429

Available from: 2016-04-26 Created: 2016-04-26 Last updated: 2016-11-28Bibliographically approved
3. Legitimate action: Exploring the rationale behind major change initiatives in higher education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Legitimate action: Exploring the rationale behind major change initiatives in higher education
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-186166 (URN)
Note

QCR 20160509

Available from: 2016-05-03 Created: 2016-05-03 Last updated: 2016-05-09Bibliographically approved
4. Evaluation as a travelling idea: Assessing the consequences of research assessment exercises
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evaluation as a travelling idea: Assessing the consequences of research assessment exercises
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-186164 (URN)
Note

QCR 20160531

Available from: 2016-05-03 Created: 2016-05-03 Last updated: 2016-05-31Bibliographically approved
5. Those who walk the talk: The role of administrative professionals in transforming universities into strategic actors
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Those who walk the talk: The role of administrative professionals in transforming universities into strategic actors
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-186165 (URN)
Note

QCR 20150531

Available from: 2016-05-03 Created: 2016-05-03 Last updated: 2016-05-31Bibliographically approved

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