Power, Supranational Regimes and New University Management in Finland

  • The leading researchers: Risto Rinne (responsible) University of Turku, Hannu Simola (Univerisity of Helsinki)
  • The researchers: Johanna Kallo, Arto Jauhiainen, Markku Vanttaja (University of Turku), Jaakko Kauko, Mari Simola, Heli Kynkäänniemi (University of Helsinki)

Late-modern policy trajectories of “learning society” and “knowledge-based economy” are rarely questioned for being felicitous and desirable characterisations of current societal megatrends. It is widely taken-as-granted that success or even survival in the 21st century world order is vitally dependent on the very ability of a society to produce both highly educated citizens and innovative knowledge. It is also hard to doubt the increasing importance of formal education as emblem and mechanism of selective, classifying and normative power penetrating more deeply and widely than ever into all sectors and strata of advanced liberal societies.

As an essential institution of symbolic production of power, the university is located in the middle of these struggles for legitimate credits and truths. This study will analyse institutionalised operating logics of power constructed through modes of governance and management in Finnish universities. There are three main questions here: first, how have these new modes been travelling and embedding? Second, what kind of new discursive and non-discursive practices and symbolic power relations are they reconstructing and reshaping? And finally, what are their effects in reproduction of what is seen as true knowledge and correct ethos in the Finnish university?

In our research project we are approaching our questions in three levels. These levels are the supranational level (especially EU Higher Education Policy), the national level (the Finnish HE policy and governance) and the university level (four case universities in Finland). The cases will be the Tampere university (as the traditional multifaculty university), the university of Lapland (as the quite new and little peripherical university), Helsinki Business School (as a big business school in the Capital area) and the Technological University of Helsinki (as the big technological university in the Capital area, which has also great value in the new technology and innovation policy). Historically our starting point comes from the turning point of Finnish university policy since late 1980s until 2007.