Lise Degn

Making Sense of University Ideas. Exploring How Ideas Influence Management Practice and Perceptions in Danish Universities

Universities and higher education in general are currently undergoing massive transformations in their institutional and organizational frames, and in terms of demands to be accountable, responsive to society and competitive in the global economy. Demands and ideas do not necessarily equate action, however, and universities, being among the oldest institutions still in existence, are often described as highly stable and institutionalized, with a strong set of internal logics and values that are not easily transformed by the emergence of new ideas.

The dissertation explores how new and old ideas about what a university is and should be are balanced when they meet – in policy developments and not least within the individual universities. Ideas are seen as drivers and catalysts of sensemaking, i.e. the processes wherein individuals and organizations attempt to organize the continual flux of information and input they face in times of complexity. The ways ideas are translated and made sense of as they travel through the Danish university system are explored; from the way central ideas are translated in higher education policies over time and to the way new ideas influence the creation of meaning and identities by Danish university managers and academics.

Published August 2014

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