Towards European Science
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Towards European Science

Dynamics and Policy of an Evolving European Research Space

Edited by Linda Wedlin and Maria Nedeva

Since the concept of the European Research Area was launched at the beginning of this century, significant effort has been made to realise the vision of a coherent space for science and research in Europe. But what is such a space, and how is it developing? This timely book analyses the dynamics of change in policy and governance of science and research within Europe over the past decade. It widens the scope of traditional policy analysis by focusing attention on the interaction between policy rationales, new governance mechanisms, and the organisational dynamics of the scientific field. The contributors build a novel analytical framework to understand the European research space as one shifting from a fragmented space of ‘science in Europe’ to one that is labelled ‘European Science’, and the chapters explore dynamics of this shift through the lenses of political science, organisation theory, science policy and related analytical traditions.
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Chapter 7: Organising knowledge institutions – standardising diversity

Ivar Bleiklie, Gigliola Mathisen Nyhagen, Jürgen Enders and Benedetto Lepori


The aim of the chapter is to analyse the relationship between changing conceptions of knowledge, higher education reform policies and changing university organization in Europe.  Empirically and conceptually we draw on comparative research on higher education reforms and their impact on academic systems and institutions the last decades, comprising European data from France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and UK. The chapter is divided into three main sections. The first part discusses how the concept of knowledge has changed in the last couple of decades. In the second part the idea of a changing concept of knowledge is put into a political and social context of rapid growth of higher education and how it relates to major developments in society at large, defined by the emerging knowledge economy and knowledge society. The last and third part analyses the organizational implications for modern university institutions. The chapter questions the idea that the increasing importance of knowledge means that the concept of knowledge is fundamentally changed and that academics have lost power or influence over decisions made by academic institutions. Instead it argues that the concept of knowledge is extended and that while academics have lost influence in some traditional decision arenas, they have gained increasing influence in new arenas that have emerged in recent decades.

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