Sub-theme 29: Translating organizational strategy, values and identities in higher education


Rómulo Pinheiro, University of Agder, Norway
David Charles, University of Strathclyde, Scotland
Glen A. Jones, University of Toronto, Canada
Heather Nel, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa

Call for Papers

This track focuses on the importance of space or geographic location in the translation and institutionalization of strategy, values, and identities in higher education by investigating the phenomenon of multi-campus systems. Multi-campus systems, defined as higher education institutions with activities spread across two or more geographic locations (Charles, 2009; Creswell, Roskens, & Henry, 1985), are widespread across countries such as Australia, South Africa and the USA. In recent years, they have become increasingly prominent across other locations as well; (Northern) Europe, South America, Asia, etc. Although campuses are geographically separated from one another and, as a result, may enjoy considerable autonomy in the way they go about their daily activities, they nonetheless tend to be an integral part of a much larger internal governance system (Nel, 2006). This, in turn, raises a number of management and leadership related challenges (Johnstone, 1999; Nicolson, 2004). Some scholars have pointed out that, in essence, multi-campus systems are characterized by the co-existence of distinct local communities (Lee & Bowen, 1971), each with their own values, identities, and traditions (cf. Becher & Trowler, 2001; Clark, 1992), not least when it comes to the ways in which these interact with the outside world and/or their immediate geographic surroundings (Pinheiro, Benneworth, & Jones, 2012).

In this track we are particularly interested in exploring the ways in which individual campuses belonging to a multi-campus system conceive of themselves (values and identities) and their role (strategy) both within the multi-campus system as a whole as well as the specific geography (region/locality) in which they are located. Pertinent research questions include, but are not limited to:

  • How does locational context affect the strategic framework of individual campuses?
  • To what extent are local campus values, identities and traditions shaped by locational context?
  • What is the interplay between structure and agency in the articulation or translation of strategies, values and identities at the local (campus) level?
  • How are conflicting institutional logics – both within and across campuses – accommodated, and related tensions/dilemmas resolved locally (campus) and centrally (system level)?

We welcome contributions – qualitative case studies, ethnographic accounts, desktop analysis, quantitative surveys, etc. – from around the world, and building upon various disciplinary/conceptual/theoretical perspectives that shed light on some of the above questions and/or other pertinent aspects related to the importance of spatial dimensions in the design and further development of multi-campus systems in higher education.


Becher, T., & Trowler, P. (2001). Academic tribes and territories: intellectual enquiry and the culture of disciplines. Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.

Charles, D. R. (2009). DEVELOPING UNIVERSITIES AND RESEARCH POTENTIAL IN PERIPHERAL REGIONS. Regions Magazine, 273(1), 6-9. doi: 10.1080/13673882.2009.9724791

Clark, B. R. (1992). The distinctive college. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers.

Creswell, J., Roskens, R., & Henry, T. (1985). A Typology of Multicampus Systems. The Journal of Higher Education, 56(1), 26-37.

Johnstone, D. B. (1999). Management and Leadership Challenges of Multicampus Systems. In J. Gaither (Ed.), The Multicampus System: Perspectives on Practice and Prospects (pp. 3-20). Sterling, VA: Stylus Press.

Lee, E., & Bowen, F. (1971). The multicampus university: A study of academic governance. : . New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Nel, H. (2006). Planning to thrive: A case study of multi-campus management in a South African comprehensive university.’  ,  . Paper presented at the Paper presented at the Tertiary Education Management Conference (TEM), Sydney.

Nicolson, R. (2004). The management of multicampus systems. South African Journal of Higher Education, 18(2), 346-258.

Pinheiro, R., Benneworth, P., & Jones, G. A. (Eds.). (2012). Universities and Regional Development: A critical assessment of tensions and contradictions. Milton Park and New York: Routledge.

Rómulo Pinheiro is Associate Professor in Public Policy and Administration at the University of Agder, Norway, and Visiting Professor in Higher Education Studies at the Universities of Oslo (Norway) and Tampere (Finland). Romulo’s research interests lie at the intersection of organizational theory, public policy, regional science and innovation, and higher education.

David Charles is Professor of Regional Economic Development and Policy at the European Policies Research Centre, University of Strathclyde, Scotland. David has published extensively on universities and regional development.

Glen A. Jones is the Ontario Research Chair in Postsecondary Education Policy and Measurement and Professor of Higher Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) of the University of Toronto, Canada. Glen’s research interests are primarily concerned with policy-related aspects and comparative dimensions within higher education.

Heather Nel is Professor and Senior Director of Institutional Planning at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), South Africa. Heather has published numerous articles on issues pertaining higher education management and institutional change.

Posted On: June 8, 2014
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