22 SES 03 D, Academic Work and Professional Development
The focus in this paper is on the HEI (Higher Education Institution) leadership in Finland and more specifically on the rector’s leadership.
The higher education system in Finland consists of traditional universities and universities of applied sciences. The former is more into traditional academic research and while the latter concentrates more on applied research and closeness to the professional working life.
In the HEI field we can see that the HEI sector is in for many changes and has been so for a long time. At the time being one can identify the following main change processes in the HEI field: Profiling and specialisation, consolidation, restructuring, effectiveness, restructuring: forming of alliances, mergers, internationalization, ranking, accreditation, transnational evaluation, new legislation, change of financial position, change in ownership etc.
How, then, do the current changes become visible from a leadership perspective? The leadership discourse is here investigated by analyzing the rectors’ inauguration speeches. How does the rector talk about these changes? The aim is to describe the leadership discourse, with the help of occurring subject positions and the positioning on the same.
The researcher applies a micro perspective on HEIs and this is a perspective that has not been widely investigated in Finland nor within the Nordic countries. Teichler and Sadlak (2000) acknowledge that the HEI research has had a policy focus in Europe. In the US the focus on the organization/institution and the leadership is much more common. In Finland the focus on HEI institutions has often been on policy and on the sociology of education.
The leadership thinking that has been inspiring me in this paper is related to what Juuti (2001) call postmodern leadership thinking. Postmodern organization research is not aiming at creating new tradition nor action models. It wants to open up social constructions which are also well suited for my discourse analytic interest here. Post-structural research on the other hand is emphasizing the importance of context and language and the way language can be interpreted as something that constitutes the subject, the talk and actions. (Juuti, 2001.) People form the organization as they talk and depending on how they talk (Wood, 1998 in Juuti 2001, pp. 128-133).
The research questions are: What kind of a discursive practice is the rector’s leadership of today? What kinds of subject positions occur and how do these describe the HEI leadership discourse in the chosen setting?
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