Higher Education

, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 103–115 | Cite as

Organizational identity as a concept for understanding university dynamics

  • Bjørn Stensaker


Universities are often portrayed as, and have been found to be, quite stable organizational forms where it 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 argues that organizational identity is a promising concept for researching both continuity and change in higher education institutions, and 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 are needed to enable a better understanding of the factors fostering both inertia and change in the sector.


Organizational identity University change University dynamics Higher education research Image Innovation Integration Interpretation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education, Faculty of Educational SciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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