Academics' Societal Engagement in Diverse European Binary Higher Education Systems: A Cross-Country Comparative Analysis

Nicolai Götze, Teresa Carvalho, Timo Aarrevaara

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This article aims to investigate whether national differences in the institutionalization of the binary divide between universities and Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) lead to different outcomes in performing Academics’ Societal Engagement (ASE). Two institutional theory-based core differences of European binary higher education (HE) systems were used to select a theory-led purposeful sample: First, the sequence of UAS-institutionalization and ASE-policy emphasis and second the political drive for a practically oriented research drift. Based on the Finnish, German and Portuguese survey data provided by the cross-country study “Academic Profession in Knowledge Society,” three dimensions of ASE are derived: techno-commercial ASE, dissemination ASE and training-related ASE. These ASE-dimensions cover the diversity of ASE across different disciplinary fields. Survey results of the Finnish sample show that all three ASE-dimensions are more strongly performed by UAS-academics than by university-academics. In Germany, robust stronger correlations of research (productivity) and all three ASE-dimensions for UAS-academics, compared to university-academics, were observed. In Portugal, convergence of ASE performed by UAS-academics and university-academics was indicated. Thus, core country-differences in the institutionalization of ASE in binary HE-systems are reflected in the results.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-109
JournalHigher Education Policy
Issue number1
Early online date15 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • academics’ societal engagement
  • knowledge and technology transfer
  • universities
  • universities of applied sciences
  • path depemndency
  • convergence
  • universities of applied sciences/polytechnics
  • path dependency
  • academics' societal engagement

Field of science

  • Administrative science


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