Finnish Polytechnics in the Regional Innovation System

Towards New Ways of Action


By Anu Lyytinen
June 2011
Tampere Univeristy Press
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 9789514484070
186 pages
$79.50 Paper original

The aim of the research was to examine how the Finnish polytechnics have built their capacity for regional engagement. The framework of the analysis was based on the organisational change elements of the entrepreneurial university. Capacity building was examined from the viewpoint of the senior institutional management and the officers from regional authorities.

The study applied a multiple case study method using four case polytechnics: Jyväskylä Polytechnic, Satakunta Polytechnic, Seinäjoki Polytechnic and Tampere Polytechnic. Although all the case polytechnics were medium-sized, multidisciplinary and regional higher education institutions, they were located in different regional innovation environments which meant that they provided different perspectives of the research problem. The research data consisted of stakeholder analysis, thematic interviews and documents which were analysed using content analysis.

The research results indicated that the case polytechnics have built their capacities for regional engagement in several ways during recent years: polytechnics have developed and strengthened their managerial capacities. At the same time the collegial forms of governance have also been important for forming common strategies, practices and a shared culture for the whole organisation. Polytechnics have established diversified linkages to other actors in their environments even if the forms of these boundary spanning activities varied between the polytechnics. Differences existed also between the fields of education as to how close they are to the external environment and how easy and characteristic it is for them to adopt entrepreneurial behaviour.

Although polytechnics have built their capacity in several ways, there are still many factors that constrain polytechnics’ development into more entrepreneurial organisations. When one is considering the extent to which the conceptualisations of the entrepreneurial university are applicable to the Finnish polytechnic context, it is important to realise the short history of polytechnics as well as their public mission which has been and still is particularly strong in Finland. The challenge is to find ways of action that are appropriate in each region as well as to Finnish culture and society.

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