Questioning the Idea of the Ivory Tower: Organizational identity as a mediator between continuity and change

by Bjørn Stensaker 

HEIK working paper 2013/01 

Professor Bjørn Stensaker


Universities are often portrayed as and found to be quite stable organizational forms where is difficult to initiate and implement change. However, numerous empirical studies have also found that universities are undoubtedly changing both due to internal developments and external dynamics. The paper explores this seemingly contradictory development. It is argued that organizational identity is a promising concept for researching both continuity and change in higher education institutions, and the paper identifies and describes various uses of organizational identity within universities and colleges demonstrating the relevance of the concept for understanding current dynamics within the higher education sector. In the conclusion, it is argued that more studies of the intangible aspects of higher education is needed to enable a better understanding of the factors fostering both inertia and change in the sector.


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Tags: higher education organizations, organizational identity, organizational theory, change and continuity
Published Mar. 2, 2015 5:48 PM - Last modified Dec. 11, 2018 7:05 PM