Priority-setting in Research Management (PrisMa) – Organisational and Leadership Reactions to Institutional Reforms in Finnish and Swedish Universities

Project Details


While higher education (HE) has long been recognized as contributing to the social, cultural and intellectual life of society, national competition for greater shares of the global economy has led governments to think much more strategically about academic knowledge production and dissemination.

In Finland, the Government resolution on the public research system (2005) has set the goal of assuring the effectiveness, quality, content and efficiency of the universities by allocating resources to bigger entities. Universities should also become more internationally competitive. It is claimed that this will require specialisation and investments in the quality of research, multidisciplinary teaching and research, and an internationally recognised researcher core.

In Sweden, there has been a similar development. Universities and university colleges as well as research funding institutions, have since 1999 been assigned to hand in research strategies according to government proposition. These are expected to form a base for the governmental proposition concerning research policy. The research strategies result from the increasing global competition and the need to profile higher education institutions.

As many institutional reformers refer to improved leadership and management as a solution to the traditional inertia of priority-setting in HEIs, it is important to know more about the changes of leadership and management processes related to both attempts and results of priority-setting in academic research.

The research questions resulting from this strain of reasoning are the following:

1) To what extent have universities identified research priorities in their strategic management?

2) What processes have the universities used in the identification, decision making and implementation of the research priorities?

3) How have these processes, understood as processes of leadership and management of academic research, contributed to successes and failures of priority-setting in research?

An essential part of priority-setting in research is strategic human resource management (SHRM) of a HEI. In the resource-based view of SHRM, the staff is seen as a resource of creating new operative strategies, while the traditional compatibility view – or fit approach – sees operative strategy as a starting point for designing adequate human resources needed for its implementation.

The research questions related to SHRM in universities are the following:

4) How do universities associate their strategic management of research with their human resource management in priority-setting of research and vice versa?

5) What factors explain the variation of this association?

The research design of the study is multiple case-study. As priority-setting is part of organisational decision making, cases are university organizations from Finland and Sweden
Effective start/end date01/08/201031/12/2012


  • University of Helsinki: €53,000.00
  • University of Helsinki: €50,000.00

Fields of Science

  • 517 Political science
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Higher Education
  • Research