Universities as Strategic Actors in the Knowlege Economy
Journal article, 2012
The university plays a particular role in the global knowledge economy, as provider of both public and private goods related to education, research, and societal impacts. At the same time, universities in the plural play many different roles, and exhibit a rich experimentation in organizational forms and knowledge foci, adapting to local and global conditions. There is also an aspect of uneven regional development and agglomeration of competencies, as the individuals and organizations must also balance local interests and stakeholders with global networks in science, technology and innovation. Thus, we can identify empirically that universities are changing their strategies, organizational structures and competencies, in order to respond to new external demands and internal management practices (Bonaccorsi and Daraio 2007). The question is how to explain this theoretically and identify empirical trends and pathways. Little previous research has focused upon how universities are learning to compete and why they try to act strategically. This article, as well as the selected articles in the special issue, focus upon how and why this transition is occurring as well as the impacts for understanding universities as strategic actors in the knowledge economy.
Section 2 provides an overview. It introduces the three themes and articles collected in this special issue, providing a summary of the main contributions. Section 3 then provides our perspective on how to analyze and understand universities as strategic actors. It discusses relevant literature, as a way of beginning to provide our perspective of the necessity, and elements involved, in a more united theoretical and empirical understanding. This includes statement of predictions, as well as empirical evidence that these trends are occurring. Section 4 concludes with relevant research themes for the future