Making sense of the third mission: institutional logics behind academics' perceptions of societal engagement in social sciences

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Abstract

In the context of growing policy pressures for the societal impact of higher education institutions, third mission activities have gained increased visibility and significance. Yet, little is known about how engagement with the external environment influences conventional dimensions of academic work, and how academics resolve potential tensions and make sense of their engagement practices. The thesis attempts to explore these issues by utilizing a self-constructed framework for the analysis of academic sensemaking and role identities based on the institutional logics perspective, and by approaching the research problem through a qualitative case study. Results indicate that societal engagement is epistemically subordinated to research as the core of the academic profession, which helps academics to make sense of the element external to the Humboldtian model of higher education and involves a hybridization of multiple institutional logics and academic identities. Evidently, for social scientists, the third mission makes the most sense when it is closely associated with the logics of profession and disciplinary area, and with state and community logics, whereas market and corporation logics, with notable exceptions, play a secondary or an antagonistic role. Data suggest that the institutional logics behind teaching might be considerably less conflict-inducing for societal engagement than those of research. Findings also imply that logics-specific variations in academics' identities and goals are of paramount importance to policymakers, managers, and academic leaders striving to support third mission activities in higher education institutions and augment the societal impact of academic work.
Original languageEnglish
TypeMSc Thesis
PublisherTampere University of Technology
Number of pages136
Place of PublicationTampere
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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