Learning to Compete in European Universities
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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.
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Chapter 13: From Social Institution to Knowledge Business

Enrico Deiaco, Magnus Holmén and Maureen McKelvey


Enrico Deiaco, Magnus Holmén and Maureen McKelvey 1. INTRODUCTION This book, Learning to Compete in European Universities, addresses the challenges facing modern universities and colleges. The main issue is how universities and colleges transform from social institutions into knowledge businesses. The previous chapters provide analysis, which frames the debates and provides some insights into this new situation. This is a necessary debate, because European universities are moving from a nationally focused and secure environment into a global and regional, uncertain future, where the selection rules and environment are more difficult to predict. So how and why do European universities see their role and their environments changing? And how are environments changing, within national institutional contexts and within the global context of science, technology, R&D and education? What alternative strategies are available? The need for debate can be illustrated by the rhetorics of the concept competition. One current trend is that many European university leaders are claiming to be for ‘strategy’, ‘focus’, ‘specialization’ and the like – as demonstrated by metres of bookshelves full of university documents. Yet, we feel that too few are seriously considering the negative and positive implications of this transformation for what the specific university does as well as the implications for the role of societal institutions within society. The hypothesis put forth here is that there is a new competitive regime, or a new ‘competitive game’, with new winners and with rules of the game that the actors are only beginning to understand....

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