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Polarization of the Swedish University Sector: Structural Characteristics and Positioning

Chapter in book
Authors Daniel Ljungberg
Mattias Johansson
Maureen McKelvey
Published in McKelvey, M. and M. Holmén (2009). Learning to Compete in European Universities: From Social Institutions to Knowledge Business
ISBN 978 1 84844 001 2
Publisher Edward Elgar Publishers
Place of publication Cheltenham UK
Publication year 2009
Published at Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Language en
Keywords Swedish universities; polarization; Matthew’s effect
Subject categories Business Administration


This chapter relates the structural characteristics of Swedish universities, to the propensity of different categories of university to attract external research funding, including industry financing. Existing literature about the ability of universities to obtain research grants in general, and to obtain industrial funding for research in particular, have focused on questions such as the quality of the research performed, the impact of informal networks in creating constructed communities, and the ‘Matthew effect’ for indiv¬idual researchers. While these streams of literature raise interesting relevant issues about the quality and orientation of research, this paper takes a different angle. By addressing structural characteristics, the chapter is related to debates about the need for critical mass and excellence, not only within research groups but also within universities. These notions leads firstly to a categorization of the Swedish university sector, and secondly to the ability of the different universities to obtain external research funding. The chapter draws upon a national database of statistical material reported to the government and additional sources to test these ideas. This chapter thus addresses the university sector in Sweden, based on time-scale data at the micro-level of specific universities.

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