Learning to Compete in European Universities

Learning to Compete in European Universities

From Social Institution to Knowledge Business

Edited by Maureen McKelvey and Magnus Holmén

This book addresses the critical issue of how and why European universities are changing and learning to compete. Anglo-Saxon universities particularly in the US, the UK and Australia have long been subject to, and responded to, market-based competition in higher education. The authors argue that Continental and Nordic universities and higher education institutes are now facing similar pressures that are leading to a structural transformation of the university sector.

Chapter 6: Polarization of the Swedish University Sector: Structural Characteristics and Positioning

Daniel Ljungberg, Mattias Johansson and Maureen McKelvey

Subjects: business and management, knowledge management, innovation and technology, knowledge management


Daniel Ljungberg, Mattias Johansson and Maureen McKelvey 1. INTRODUCTION European universities are facing major transitions, including increasing numbers of students, decreasing research funding per faculty and new types of commitments to society (Chapter 13, this book; Lawton Smith, 2006). A number of societal debates are ongoing, such as how universities can obtain external research funding and why some are relatively more successful at it than others. Due to major changes in public policy in the 1990s and high quality micro-level data, Sweden provides an interesting case of transition, new entrants and dynamic competition within the university sector. This chapter provides empirical data about a polarization of the Swedish university sector, as well as tentative explanations of which structural characteristics of individual universities help explain their positioning and access to resources for research. The ‘university sector’ is here defined as the total population of organizations providing both research and higher education within an economy. This population of higher education institutes (HEIs) include university colleges, institutes of technology and universities. In contrast to the USA, where such tendencies have been visible for many years, European countries have only since the early 1980s begun to introduce more competitive mechanisms for resource allocation within the university sector (Geuna 2001; Vincent-Lacrin, 2006). Literature about Europe shows a diversity of the overall university population, in regards to certain structural characteristics, which enhance polarization into winners and losers in this new competitive regime (Geuna, 1998, 1999). This chapter can be put in this context of changing...

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