Tensions in the Sustainability of Higher Education- the Case of Finnish Universities
Lattu,Annina; Cai,Yuzhuo (2020)
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Universities are increasingly engaged in marketization and are also expected to transform into more sustainable institutions and be change-agents pushing forward the movement of sustainable development. This article introduces an analytical framework originated by Hahn et al. (2015) for understanding tensions concerning corporate sustainability to the context of the Finnish university system in order to answer the following questions: What are the tensions relating to Finnish universities’ social and economic sustainability, and what strategies might universities use to cope with these tensions? Through analyzing interviews with university managers and officials from the Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland, we find that Hahn et al.’s framework is generally applicable in analyzing tensions of sustainability in universities, and we identify six tensions relating to the sustainability of Finnish universities. The tensions are related to (1) academic leadership and management legitimacy, (2) regional political tensions and university profiling, (3) political power over the university system, (4) changing academic work and profession, (5) academic autonomy and the role of the state, and (6) the future role of the university institution. Moreover, the article discusses issues regarding how to adapt the framework of corporate sustainability to the context of higher education.
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