University Mergers and Strategic Positioning: The Swedish Experience
Published in Curaj, A., Georghiou, L., Harper, J.C. and E. Egron-Polak (eds., 2014), Mergers and Alliances In Higher Education: International Practice and Emerging Opportunities, London, Springer.
23 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2014 Last revised: 10 Mar 2019
Date Written: September 8, 2014
This chapter outlines the Swedish experience of university mergers, from the perspective of the broader pressures for change and strategic behavior resulting from the on-going transformations facing European universities. First, the chapter draws out the main pressures facing Swedish universities during the last decades, in terms of significant trends and key changes in public policy. Second, the three “voluntary” university mergers taking place in Sweden during this period are presented and analyzed, from the perspective of strategic positioning.
The main external pressures facing Swedish universities can be summarized as: i) increased competition among HEIs; ii) shifting policy focus from quantity towards (increased) quality; iii) forthcoming contraction of education; and iv) governmental encouragement of mergers between small HEIs and larger universities.
The three mergers in the Swedish university sector presented in this chapter to a large extent show similar rationales underlying the mergers. The main rationales for merging identified in the studied cases are: i) to achieve scale and scope by pooling recourses; ii) increase quality; and iii) differentiate into in or change position in existing market or profile. When it comes to the outcomes of mergers, the reviewed cases suggest that it may be easier for HEIs to strategically position themselves through mergers in education than in research.
Keywords: University mergers
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