University of Oulu

Tuunainen, J., Kantasalmi, K. Processing societal expectations: entrepreneurship initiative decision-making at a research university. High Educ (2023).

Processing societal expectations : entrepreneurship initiative decision-making at a research university

Saved in:
Author: Tuunainen, Juha1; Kantasalmi, Kari1
Organizations: 1Department of Marketing, Management and International Business, University of Oulu Business School, P.O. Box 4600, Oulu, FIN-90014, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-03


Deploying systems-theoretical conceptuality, this paper improves understanding of the organisational consequences of the intensified societal engagement of a research university. Aligning its work with Luhmannian organisational analysis, it addresses the dynamic interplay between two modes of administrative decision-making communication, namely, the traditional professional administration and the New-Public-Management-oriented (NPM) managerial techniques. Our research observes how the politico-economic conditions of the society translate into the university’s decisions concerning an initiative to engage in start-up entrepreneurship. The article contributes to higher education literature by showing that the university’s professional administration is a discrete organisational function internally differentiated into specialised administrative branches, each of which operates according to a sense-making regime associated with its primary societal system reference, such as education, science and the economy. The article also demonstrates the structurally conditioned differences in branch-specific temporalisations of the entrepreneurial initiative during decision-making. Inspired by the Luhmannian view on temporality, we demonstrate how administrative decisions synchronise the varied structural time horizons within the university’s professional administration. Focus on temporality in decision-making thus allows us to see how the NPM-inspired managerial techniques are operationalised in administrative communication at universities. Consequently, the paper argues that university administration is a complex dynamic entity, which varyingly aligns itself to national policy scripts, and only selectively enacts features of a global trend known as NPM.

see all

Series: Higher education
ISSN: 0018-1560
ISSN-E: 1573-174X
ISSN-L: 0018-1560
Issue: Latest articles
DOI: 10.1007/s10734-023-01063-3
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
Funding: This research was supported by funding from the Academy of Finland (decision number 316545).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 316545
Detailed Information: 316545 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit