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The University as an Adaptive Resilient Organization: A Complex Systems Perspective.

In J. Huisman & M. Tight (Eds.), Theory and Method in Higher Education Research (pp. 119-136).


Rómulo Pinheiro, Mitchell Young


This chapter provides an alternative conception of universities and the higher education systems in which they operate in an attempt to comprehend the ways in which such institutions and systems adapt and maintain themselves over time. Conceptually, it builds on complex systems theory, most notably critical insights from the study of complexity. We base our empirical analysis on developments across the European continent in the light of recent efforts to modernize university systems in the context of rising competition and pressures toward vertical and horizontal differentiation. We contrast two models of the university – strategic versus resilient – and critically reflect on the implications their differences have for the development of systems and universities and future research work in the area.