Striving for Research Excellence by Understanding Institutional Rationalities: A Case Study within the Bachelor of Automotive Engineering

Lejo Buning, Peter Schuur, Frans de Vijlder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The relatively new experience during the last two decades with applied research at Dutch universities of applied sciences opens up opportunities to introduce research excellence to these. A key issue here may be the institutional rationalities of professionals
operating in the communities of education, industry and research – the adaptive learning triangle. By understanding the rationalities of these professional communities, a new perspective may emerge to promote research excellence at a university of applied sciences.

Previous research on this topic is dominated by university-industry cooperation. Typically, in these institutions the underlying idea is that educational activities sustain the research process. At universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands, teaching is the predominant activity, and research seems to be a somewhat separate world. However, research is indeed conducted and a focus on research excellence may help to enhance education with state-of-the-art topics emerging from the cooperation with industry.

This chapter elaborates on institutional rationalities emerging from a case study concerning the Bachelor programme in Automotive Engineering of the School of Engineering and Automotive at HAN University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. We focus on the playing field of the professional within the communities spanned by the adaptive learning triangle. The objective is to address the issue of enhancing research excellence in the curriculum of the Bachelor programme in Automotive Engineering, by understanding the institutional rationalities of the three professional communities involved.

Our research shows a compelling distinction in the mindset of the education and research communities in the School of Engineering and Automotive versus that of the industry community, such as in the: (a) economic field (cost coverage versus shareholder value); (b) research paradigm (knowledge dissemination versus exploiting intellectual property); and (c) time dynamics (short time to market versus a set four-year study programme).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustaining the Future of Higher Education
Subtitle of host publicationHigher Education: Lin king Research, Policy and Practice
EditorsBruno Broucker, Rosalind Pritchard, Göran Melin, Clare Milsom
Place of PublicationLeiden
Pages24 - 44
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-46780-4
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-46778-1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2021

Publication series

NameHigher Education: Linking Research, Policy and Practice


  • Dutch UAS research excellence
  • Dutch institutional rationality
  • Dutch university of applied sciences
  • Adaptive learning triangle


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