Academic ‘boundary work’ in a regionally engaged university

Sofya Kopelyan

    Research output: Working paper

    279 Downloads (Pure)


    Widening discussion of the role of universities in regional development has shifted the strategic attention of European higher education institutions towards their regional impact and the production of knowledge in cooperation with regional partners, thereby ‘stretching’ core university missions and the boundaries of academic work. This stretch created tensions between the norms and practices of the academy and the surrounding community. The study explores how academics in a Swedish regionally engaged university process these tensions through ‘boundary work’ against the background of their professional trajectories and roles. Drawing on 26 narrative interviews, it identifies four scenarios: researchers with standard academic training combine scientific rigour with local relevance without significantly altering their core identities; researchers with a more diversified professional background pursue ‘excellence with impact’ prioritising collaborative knowledge production over career progression; academics with standard training invested in non-research tasks divide their time between the university and the region without subordinating relevance to excellence; and academics with mixed backgrounds and role portfolios fuse the boundaries, giving preference to the ‘real world’ over the campus and exhibiting a greater variety of identity choices.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherUniversity of Stavanger
    Number of pages25
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Publication series

    NameRUNIN Working Paper Series
    ISSN (Electronic)2535-5686


    • Regional engagement
    • Mission stretch
    • Boundary work
    • Academic work
    • Academic identity
    • Role identity


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