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Universities as societal pillars?

A platform for research on the impact of university


The proposed project explores how universities operate, how they interact with their environments, and how that interplay shapes how they organize their core activities. The project assumes that universities worldwide share many characteristics but that universities also differ significantly depending on their historical evolution and their local and national embeddedness. To illuminate this, this project will study how universities interact with governments, funders and stakeholders, how they structure their tasks, and how they shape the relationship between funding, organization and the aforementioned activities.

The project outlines how the different tasks and missions of universities have evolved over time, how a historical pattern of relationships between tasks and authority have developed in Sweden in the last 100 years in particular and how that pattern shapes contemporary conditions in Swedish universities. It relates the missions of the university to institutional specificities, such as patterns of state governance, interplay with stakeholders in industry, government and civil society, and the division of labour between universities and other providers of research and education and vice versa, that the institutional properties of universities shape how policies, funding arrangements and other forms of patronage are being formulated and implemented. It seeks to elucidate differences and similarities in the institutionalization (and change) of universities within three different contexts: Sweden, the UK and Germany, and using relevant comparisons with the evolution of university roles in North America and Asia.

PI: Mats Benner

Funding agency: Vinnova

Duration: 2015-2021