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Devising futures for universities in a multi-level structure: A methodological experiment

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  • Havas, Attila

Abstract

Universities have traditionally been key players in producing and validating new scientific knowledge, but other actors have also become major research performers. Meanwhile, the notion of research has been extended considerably, and the environment of universities is also undergoing fundamental changes. Thus, it is timely to consider alternative futures for them, to be better prepared for their new roles. A review of recent works on the future of higher education shows that the starting point in these exercises is either an existing or an abstract university. This approach has three major shortcomings: (i) the broader socio-economic systems, in which universities operate, are not addressed in these analyses, and thus neither the potential changes in these broader settings, nor their impacts on higher education can be explored; (ii) the huge diversity of higher education systems and individual universities cannot be reflected; (iii) the role of other research actors, and more importantly, the links among universities and those other research players are often disregarded. This article offers an alternative approach, using the case of EU universities as an example, to rectify these shortcomings. A set of ‘cascading’ visions are devised to demonstrate the close links between three levels. First, alternative futures are developed for the EU by considering (i) the overall rationale of EU policies; and (ii) the standing of the EU vis-à-vis the Triad. Second, the different directions are identified, in which the European Research and Innovation Area can evolve. Third, skipping the national level, futures are built for the universities themselves, focussing on their research activities. The modest intention of the futures presented in this paper is to demonstrate how to use the proposed new approach, and initiate meaningful and lively dialogues among stakeholders. Their diverse accumulated knowledge and experience, as well as distinct viewpoints are indispensable for building policy-relevant visions. The proposed three-level structure of futures – or ‘cascading’ visions – offer several advantages for policy-makers at various levels, the stakeholders of universities, as well as academics interested in prospective analysis of innovation systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Havas, Attila, 2007. "Devising futures for universities in a multi-level structure: A methodological experiment," MPRA Paper 66341, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:66341
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/66341/1/MPRA_paper_66341.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hemert, P. van & Nijkamp, P., 2009. "Knowledge investments, business R&D and innovativeness of countries. A qualitative meta-analytic comparison," Serie Research Memoranda 0041, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
    2. Havas, Attila, 2011. "Multiple futures for higher education in a multi-level structure," MPRA Paper 38117, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Alternative futures for the EU; The European Research and Innovation Area (ERIA) and universities; Trends and drivers for changes; Multi-level governance;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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