31.05.2018

Research plan

Short version of the research plan

1. Rationale

The production and transfer of new knowledge is crucial for the future of contemporary societies – including Finland. There is a common understanding that universities are in the core of these knowledge-related processes because of their research capacities and their connections to surrounding societies. However, too little is known about the actors, the academics, who actually take care of the knowledge transfer processes through their movements between universities and receiving (business, industrial, public or third sector) organisations. We call these people as the exit group of academics.

Our EANKS (Exiting academics in networked knowledge societies) research project addresses this knowledge gap in the research literature both theoretically and empirically. Theoretically, we will use the analytical synthesis of Networked Knowledge Societies (NKS) (Välimaa, Hoffman & Papatsiba 2016 ) as a theoretical framework, and empirically we will utilize mixed-methods approach to collect both statistical and qualitative data.  Analytically, we will use Human Resource Management (HRM)  as an innovative analytical perspective to analyse human resources flows of universities and receiving institutions of the exit group academics.

Our main research objective is to analyse how universities are connected with their societies through the analysis of the exit group of academics. We will operationalize them as people who worked in Finnish universities between 2012 and 2014 but who are no longer employed by a university. This novel perspective helps to problematize both knowledge production in universities and knowledge transfer from universities to society. Therefore, the main research objective of the study is to analyse how and why academics exit universities in networked knowledge societies. The perspective of the exiting academics also helps to discuss the processes of recruitment of academics and the making of a career in academia from an alternative perspective to traditional studies which have focused on the academics who are currently working in universities. This way our research project also helps to open new perspective to the research traditions of academic work and academic careers. 

This research join in the discussions e.g. on networked knowledge societies (Välimaa, Hoffman & Papatsiba), profession and academic profession (e.g. Evetts 2011; Carvalho & Santiago 2016; Pekkola 2014), academic work and careers (e.g. Baruch 2013; Halse & Mowbray 2011; Musselin 2010; Siekkinen, Pekkola, Kuoppala & Välimaa 2016; Siekkinen, Pekkola & Kivistö 2016; Teichler & Höhle 2013; Ylijoki & Ursin 2013),  human resource management (HRM) (e.g. Boxall & Purcell 2008), knowledge production and knowledge transfer, innovation system, human capital, brain circulation (e.g. Etzkovitz & Leydesdorff 2000; Koerselman & Uusitalo 2014; Stenvall & Laitinen 2013; Teixiera 2014; Tung 2008), higher education policy and innovation policy (Pekkola & Kivistö 2017; Nokkala 2015).

 2. Research objectives and research questions

Our research aims to reveal how universities are networked with their societies through the analysis of the exit group of academics. This perspective helps to problematize both knowledge production in universities and knowledge transfer from universities to society. Therefore, the main research objective of the study is to analyse how and why academics exit universities in networked knowledge societies. The perspective of the exiting academics also helps to discuss the processes of recruitment of academics and the making of a career in academia from an alternative perspective to traditional studies which have focused on the academics who are currently working in universities. In order to theoretically and empirically reflect on the main research objective, we will pay attention to the following research themes which are operationalized into research questions according to individual and organisational perspectives. Research themes and operationalized research questions are as follows:

1.           How did academics exit universities?

Individual perspective: How did academics exit? Where do they exit? What are their characteristics in terms of discipline, gender, family composition and career stage? Are they connected with universities after exit? Do they re-enter universities? How the knowledge is transferred via networks?

HRM perspective: What kind of HRM-processes and practices do universities have for exiting academics? What kind of HRM processes and practices universities have for maintaining networks of departing academics? What kind of HRM processes and practices universities have for re-entering academics?

2.           Why do the academics exit universities?

Individual perspective: What characteristics explain exits? What are the push and pull factors? What are the combinations of motives to exit?  Are there differences between disciplines, career stages or between different tasks (research, teaching and service)?

HRM perspective: Does HRM processes and practices recognize potential exit groups? Are there practices in place for meeting ”push” and ”pull” factors? What are the rationales from HRM perspective to support departure and retention of academics?  

3. Expected outcomes  

The main expected research outcome of the EANKS project will be a better understanding of how universities are networked with the Finnish society. This critical view has a potential to influence the higher education and science and industrial policies in Finland.   

 From scholarly perspective, EANKS research has a potential to significantly contribute to the academic debates on the role of higher education in contemporary societies, academic work and careers and HRM. Critical discussion will challenge the narrow utilitarian approach of universal HRM-literature originating from business administration. Further, from policy perspective, this study addresses the dual role of academic careers and university HRM and aims to support organizational development and societal mobility. Finally, from the perspective of practice, this study investigates impacts of individual career decisions and (best) HRM practices in networked knowledge society.   

 

References:

Baruch, Y. (2013). Careers in academe: The academic labour market as an eco-system. Career Development International, 18(2), 196–2010. doi:10.1108/CDI-09-2012-0092 

Carvalho, T. & Santiago, R. (2016). Professionalism and knowledge. In M. Dent, I. Bourgeault, J. Denis, & E. Kuhlmann (Eds.), The Routledge companion to the professions and professionalism. (pp. 144-157). Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

Evetts, J.(2011) A new professionalism? Challenges and opportunities. Current Sociology. 59:4, 406-422

Halse, C. & Mowbray, S (2011)The impact of the doctorate. Studies in Higher Education. 36(5) pp. 513-525. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2011.594590. 

Koerselman, K. & Uusitalo, R. (2014) The risk and return of human capital investments. Labour Economics (30) pp.154-163. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.labeco.2014.04.011. 

Musselin, C. (2010). The market for academics. New York, NY: Routledge.

Nokkala, T. (2015). Making the Case for Policy - Persuasiveness in Higher Education, Science and Technology Policy Discourse. Accepted for publication at the European Journal of Higher Education.

Pekkola, E. (2014). Korkeakoulujen professio Suomessa. Ajankuvia, käsitteitä ja kehityskulkuja. Akateeminen väitöskirja. Tampere, Finland: Tampere University Press.

Pekkola E. & Kivistö J. (2016). Higher Education Reforms and Governance. In Farazmand, Ali  (ed.). Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance. Dordrecht: Springer.

Siekkinen, T., Kuoppala, K., Pekkola, E. & Välimaa, J. (2016). Reciprocal commitment in academic careers? Finnish implications and international trends. European Journal of Higher Education. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21568235.2016.1248990

Siekkinen, T., Pekkola, E. & Kivistö, J. (2016). Recruitments in Finnish universities: Practicing strategic or pathetic HRM? Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy. 2016 (2):32316. http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/nstep.v2.32316.

Stenvall, J. & Laitinen. I. (2013).  Higher Education Engagement and Innovation Dynamics - Comparative Study of Regional Innovative Networks of the City of Helsinki and the City of Chicago. In: Osborne, M. (ed.) The role of HE in local and regional social and economic development. Niace. Accepted.

Teixeira, P. (2014). Gary Beckers' early work on human capital - collaborations and distinctiveness. IZA Journal of Labor Economics. 3(12). 

Tung, R (2008). Brain circulation, diaspora, and international competitiveness. European Management Journal 26 (5), pp. 298-304. 

Välimaa, J., Hoffman, D. & Papatsiba, V. (2016) Higher education in Networked Knowledge Societies in Hoffman, D.M. and Välimaa, J (eds.) Re-Becoming universities. Springer  (2016)