StARS – Strategic Action and Response
Strategies in a changing Swedish higher education landscape 1993-2013
Research project: HEOS - Higher education organization studies
The StARS project deals with the new situation of the universities, where they are no longer controlled in detail, but are still expected to identify common goals and strategies that will be identified, implemented and followed up. The project studies forms of prioritization, leadership and organization in Swedish universities in the last two decades. This multidisciplinary research project, funded by the Riksbank's Jubilee Fund in the Public Administration and Audit, is chaired by Lars Geschwind, acting on the Learning in STEM unit at KTH.
About the project
Universities have a broad range of missions in society: as guarantors of academic integrity, providers of professional training, and partners in social and economic change processes. Historically, the management of these roles has been implicit, where governments have instead steered universities via detailed and piecemeal regulations of funding, employment conditions, organisation, etc. The current governance model downplays detailed regulations but instead expect universities to identify their own strategies and missions.
In the light of this transformation, our main interest lies in how universities interpret and act upon these new regulatory conditions. How do they develop leadership roles, organisational structures, plans and models for prioritysetting, external relations, and recruitment, to meet these expectations but also to maintain their internal organisational relations?
We take a longitudinal and comparative approach to these issues, starting with the early 1990s and ending at present times. Key concepts are rationalisation, renewal/continuity and sense-making processes. The issue we are raising resonates with cutting edge issues in higher education policy, engineering education, and research policy. Our approach, a focus on how initiatives are framed and legitimised with a comparison across institutional models and settings within a common scientific area (Engineering/Technology), is original.