Translating managerialism in a university merger

Research Cluster

Speaker:Janne Tienari, Aalto University, Finland
Date: Tuesday 8 March 2011
Time: 14:30 - 16:00
Location: Conference room 2, Xfi Building

Further details

“Where is the new Nokia?” asks Tuula Teeri, a molecular geneticist who was recruited from Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology to serve as Aalto’s inaugural rector. “We need to stimulate innovation.”
With these words, The Chronicle of Higher Education (2 January 2011) captures the ethos in merging Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics and University of Art and Design in Finland. The three universities were merged on 1 January 2010 into what is now called Aalto University. With its explicit focus on commercial innovations, Aalto exemplifies change in academia in peripheral countries in a pronounced way. The primary task of the new university is conceived by politicians, ministry officials and captains of industry to be its contribution to the national economy. Also, the merger is not a one-off incident, but part of an institutionalized development. Changes in academia across Europe are an integral part of national public sector reforms, which aim at consolidation through radical change such as mergers.
I will consider the ways in which managerialism – the adoption of ideas and practices of corporate management – enters the Aalto University merger: how it becomes translated into practice within the organization and in its relations with key stakeholders, and what contradictions and tensions arise. Specifically, the management of reputation in the unfolding of the merger.
Janne Tienari is Editor-in-Chief of Scandinavian Journal of Management. Research interests include managing multinational corporations, academic institutions, cross-cultural studies of gender and organizing, strategy, media representations, critical discourse analysis, and the language of global capitalism.