Koulutuksen tutkimuslaitos > Changes in Networks, Higher Education and Knowledge Societies >

Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI), The Open University, UK


Individual Project Description

This individual project (IP) will set out the framework and objectives for the institutional case studies to be undertaken in the participating countries in the CINHEKS project (UK, Finland, Germany, Poland, Japan, and USA). The UK team will develop a common framework for the case studies (e.g. criteria for case selections, information profile questionnaire, interview guidelines), have a co-ordinating responsibility for all case studies, undertake the UK case studies, and lead on comparative data analysis and linkage of the case studies to the overall project themes. The profiling of institutions and carrying out of the case studies in other participating countries will be undertaken as part of the work programmes of the other IPs.

Aims and Objectives
The framing context for IP4 is the fact that the notion of the Knowledge Society is routinely invoked to describe the nature of modern societies in different parts of the world, and commonly utilised across different specificities of geographical and historical context and concrete experience. The notion has quite specific implications for how universities are changing from their traditional ways of producing and disseminating knowledge. Hence the associated explanatory notions for characterising the nature of the Knowledge Society include Mode 2 knowledge production (knowledge in the context of application rather than discovery), the Triple Helix relationship (universities, government, industry) and academic capitalism (entrepreneurial academics and universities). Despite the ease and frequency of use of these notions to characterise the changing relationships between higher education and society, the rigour of their analytical applicability (across different regional, national and institutional contexts) as well as their empirical solidity remain to be demonstrated in the form of focused and
comparative studies of current and evolving practices in higher education institutions within and across different parts of the world. IP4 will consist in each country of:

a) between four and six profiles of contrasting higher education institutions, providing overviews of current strategies and practices in the institutions’ relationships with other social, economic and political institutions and organisations;

b) case studies of two institutions, one ‘globally focused’ and one more ‘regionally focused’, examining the factors driving academic practices in both research and teaching among particular groups of academics and individuals and the social impacts of those practices. Together, the profiles and the case studies will be designed to demonstrate how and to what extent the explanatory constructs of the ‘knowledge society’ are applicable to illuminate the changing relationships between higher education and society in different institutional, national and regional contexts. The profiling and case study methodology will be used to test generalised assumptions in contemporary policy discourses in higher education that the dimensions of the knowledge society in respect of knowledge production and dissemination, graduate outputs and destinations, and networks and relationships with government, industry and civil society are common in global and regional universities as well as across universities in different regional settings. Research questions will focus, for example, on whether and how the knowledge society discourses

  • play themselves out at macro (system), meso (institutional decision makers) and micro (academics and researchers) levels;
  • play themselves out within different disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields;
  • have altered the professional conduct of academic work or modified traditional academic values like academic freedom and autonomy and working towards the public good;
  • have changed the modes of academic and university networks in relation to knowledge production and utilisation by government, industry and civil society;
  • have altered the forms of knowledge outputs and who has access to them;
  • have contributed to more widespread and/or more focused societal impact and change.
The empirical findings and analyses from the profiles and case studies will be used to contribute to the overall project themes but especially to IP1 and IP3, helping to establish the extent to which the evidence on the ground bears out the pervasive knowledge society policy discourse in higher education as well as elucidates similarities and differences in how the
notion finds concrete expression in different disciplinary, institutional and regional contexts.

Project Personnel

PI: Professor John Brennan
Phone: +44 (0)20 7447 2564
Fax: +44 (0)20 7447 2556
Email: j.l.brennan@open.ac.uk

Co-PI: Brenda Little
Phone: +44 (0)20 7447 25670
Fax: +44 (0)20 7447 2556

Co-PI: Mala Singh
Phone: +44 (0)1908 332432
Fax: +44 (0)1908 653672
Email: m.singh@open.ac.uk


Contact Information

CHERI also has two offices, one in London:

44 Bedford Row

and one in Milton Keynes:

Briggs Building
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes



CHERI (established in 1992), which has 11 research and support staff and 15 associates, is part of the Open University. CHERI's main focus is on the relationship between higher education and society. It provides research, intelligence, analysis and advice to policy makers and senior managers at institutional, national and international levels, and also contributes to the international field of higher education policy research and disseminates information about higher education developments to the wider academic community. CHERI's activities have involved higher education institutions and organisations in 38 countries. As well as research, its activities include policy analysis and advice, training and development, and the provision of intelligence through publications and conferences. CHERI provides a consultancy service to individual higher education institutions and also to national and international higher education agencies.

CHERI's main areas of expertise in higher education are employment and the knowledge society, equity and social justice, and management and regulation.

Additional information on the CHERI