Higher Education Policy

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 425–442 | Cite as

Universities’ Third Mission: Global Discourses and National Imperatives

  • Rómulo PinheiroEmail author
  • James Karlsen
  • Jan Kohoutek
  • Mitchell Young
Original Article


Universities are increasingly pressurized to contribute to the socio-economic development of their societies. This has led to increasing calls for stronger societal engagement around the third mission (TM). In this paper, we contextualize developments surrounding TM by comparing policy approaches in Norway and the Czech Republic. Our analysis shows similarities as well as differences and points to the importance of assessing TM developments in the light of wider policy dynamics and priorities.


universities third mission regional development governance Norway Czech Republic 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009–2014 and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports under Project Contract No. MSMT-5397/2015.


  1. Aghion, P., Dewatripont, M., Hoxby, C., Mas-Colelle, M. and Sapir, A. (2008) Higher Aspirations: An Agenda for Reforming European Universities, Brussels: Bruegel.Google Scholar
  2. Arbo, P. and Eskelinen, H. (2003) The Role of Small, Comprehensive Universities in Regional Economic Development: Experiences from Two Nordic Case .Paper for the 43rd ERSA Congress; 27–30 August; Jyväskylä, Finland.Google Scholar
  3. Arnold, E. (2011) International Audit of Research, Development and Innovation in the Czech Republic. Final Report,, accessed 10 October 2016.
  4. Bastedo, M.N. (2007) ‘Sociological Frameworks for Higher Education Policy Research’, in P.J. Gumport (eds.) Sociology of Higher Education: Contributions and Their Contexts, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 295–318.Google Scholar
  5. Bathelt, H., Malmberg, A. and Maskell, P. (2004) ‘Clusters and knowledge: local buzz, global pipelines and the process of knowledge creation’, Progress in Human Geography 28(1): 31–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bennet, A. (2010) ‘Process tracing and causal inference’, in H.E. Brady and D. Collier (eds.) Rethinking Social Enquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 207–220.Google Scholar
  7. Benneworth, P. (2013) University Engagement with Socially Excluded Communities, Drodrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Benneworth, P., Coenen, L., Moodysson, J. and Asheim, B. (2009) ‘Exploring the multiple roles of Lund University in strengthening Scania’s regional innovation system: Towards Institutional Learning?’, European Planning Studies 17(11): 1645–1664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brada, M. and Hanzelková, A. (2015) Third Mission of Czech Higher Education Institutions, Prague: MEYS.Google Scholar
  10. Capano, G. (2011) ‘Government continues to do its job. A comparative study of governance shifts in the higher education sector’, Public Administration 89(4):1622–1642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. CHES (2007) Access to Higher Education in the Czech Republic in 19182006 Including Historical Overview, Prague: CHES.Google Scholar
  12. Drucker, J. and Goldstein, H. (2007) ‘Assessing the regional economic development impacts of universities: a review of current approaches’, International Regional Science Review 30(1): 20–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Etzkowitz, H. (2008) The Triple Helix: University-Industry-Government Innovation in Action, New York: Taylor & Francis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Feldman, M. and Desrochers, P. (2003) ‘Research universities and local economic development: lessons from the history of the Johns Hopkins University’, Industry and Innovation 10(1): 5–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Feldman, M. P. (1994) ‘The university and economic development: the case of Johns Hopkins University and Baltimore’, Economic Development Quarterly 8(1): 67–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Government of the Czech Republic (1998) Act 111/1998: Higher Education Act, Prague: Office of the Government.Google Scholar
  17. Harach, L., Kotásek, J., Koucký, J. and Hendrichová, J. (1992) Higher education in the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic: Report to the OECD, Prague: Centre for Higher Education Studies.Google Scholar
  18. Hendrichová, J. and Šebková, H. (1995) ‘Decision-Making in Czech Higher education after November, 1989’, in K. Hüfner (ed.) Higher Education Reform Processes in Central and Eastern Europe, Frankfurt: Peter Lang, pp. 105–117.Google Scholar
  19. Howlett, M. and Mukherjee, I. (2014) ‘Policy design and non-design: towards a spectrum of policy formulation types’, Politics and Governance 2(2): 57–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Howlett, M. and Rayner, J. (2007) ‘Design principles for policy mixes: cohesion and coherence in ‘new governance arrangements’, Policy and Society 26(4): 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kunnskapsdepartmentet (KD) (2014) Long-Term Plan for Research and Higher Education 20152024, Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.Google Scholar
  22. Kohoutek, J., Pinheiro, R., Čábelková, I. and Šmídová, M. (2017) ‘Higher education institutions in peripheral regions: a literature review and framework of analysis’, Higher Education Policy 30(4). doi: 10.1057/s41307-017-0062-8.
  23. Lester, R. and Sotarauta, M. (2007) Innovation, Universities and the Competitiveness of Regions, Helsinki: Tekes.Google Scholar
  24. Maassen, P. (2009) ‘The modernisation of european higher education: national policy dynamics’, in A. Amaral, I. Bleiklie and C. Musselin (eds.) From Governance to Identity Higher Education Dynamics, Drodrecht: Springer, pp. 95–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Maassen, P. (2014) ‘A new social contract for higher education?’, in G. Goastellec and F. Picard (eds.) Higher Education in Societies, Rotterdam: Sense, pp. 33–50.Google Scholar
  26. Maassen, P. and Olsen, J.P. (2007) University Dynamics and European Integration, Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. MEYS (2001) National Plan for Development of Education in the Czech Republic (White Paper), Prague: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.Google Scholar
  28. MEYS (2009) White Paper on Tertiary Education, Prague: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.Google Scholar
  29. MEYS (2014) Operation Programme “Research and Development for Innovations”: Review of Completed Calls. Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports,, accessed 23 October 2016.
  30. OECD (2007) Higher Education and Regions: Globally Competitive, Locally Engaged, Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.Google Scholar
  31. OECD (2009) OECD Regions at a Glance, Paris: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.Google Scholar
  32. Paradeise, C., Reale, E., Bleiklie, I. and Ferlie, E. (2009) University Governance: Western European Comparative Perspectives, Drodecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pinheiro, R. (2012a) ‘In the region, for the region? A comparative study of the institutionalisation of the regional mission of universities’ Ph.D. disertation, Department of Education, University of Oslo.Google Scholar
  34. Pinheiro, R. (2012b) ‘Knowledge and the ‘Europe of the Regions’: the case of the High North’, in M. Kwiek and P. Maassen (eds.) National Higher Education Reforms in a European Context: Comparative Reflections on Poland and Norway, Frankfurt: Peter Lang, pp. 179–208.Google Scholar
  35. Pinheiro, R. (2013) ‘Bridging the local with the global: building a new university on the fringes of Europe’, Tertiary Education and Management 19(2): 144–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pinheiro, R. (2014) ‘Regional policy and higher education: the case of Northern Norway’, in T. Aarevaara and E. Berg (eds.) Higher Education and Research in Academe: Who should Pay?, Luleå: Luleå Tekniska Universitet, pp. 53–64.Google Scholar
  37. Pinheiro, R. (2015) ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius: mobilising the University for the ‘Europe of Knowledge’, in B. Culum, F. Robeiro and Y. Politis (eds) New Voices in Higher Education Research and Scholarship, Hershey, PA: IGI-Global, pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
  38. Pinheiro, R., Benneworth, P. and Jones, G.A. (eds.) (2012) Universities and Regional Development: A Critical Assessment of Tensions and Contradictions, Milton Park and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Pinheiro, R. and Stensaker, B. (2014) ‘Designing the Entrepreneurial University: the interpretation of a global idea’, Public Organization Review 14(4): 497–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pinheiro, R., Charles, D. and Jones, G. (2016) ‘Equity, institutional diversity and regional development: a cross-country comparison’, Higher Education 72(3): 307–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pollitt, C. and Bouckaert, G. (2011) Public Management Reform: A Comparative Analysis - New Public Management, Governance, and the Neo-Weberian State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Ramirez, F., Byrkjeflot, H. and Pinheiro, R. (2016) ‘Higher education and health organizational fields in the age of “world class” and “best practices”’, in R. Pinheiro, L. Geschwind, F. Ramirez and K. Vrangbæk (eds.) Towards a Comparative Institutionalism: Forms, Dynamics and Logics Across Health Care and Higher Education Fields, Bingley: Emerald, pp. 35–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. RCN (2004) Programme for Regional R&D and Innovation (VRI), Oslo: Research Council of Norway. Available at (accessed 1 October 2016).
  44. RCN (2016) Centres for Research-based Innovation - SFI,, accessed 1 October 2016.
  45. Saublens, C., Bonas, G., Husso, K., Komárek, P., Oughton, C., Santos Pereira, T., Thomas, B. and Wathen, M. (2016) Regional Research Intensive Clusters and Science Parks, Brussels: European Commission, DG Research. Available at:
  46. Šebková, H. (ed.) (2006) Tertiary Education in the Czech Republic: Country Background Report for OECD Thematic Review of Higher Education, Prague: Center for Higher Education Studies.Google Scholar
  47. Šima, K. and Pabian, P. (2013) ZtracenýHumboltůvráj: Ideologiejednotyvýzkumu a výukyvevysokémškolství [Lost Humboldt: Ideology of Research and Teaching Education], Praha: Slon.Google Scholar
  48. Šmídová, M., Šmídová, O., Kyllingstad, N. and Karlsen, J. (2017);Regional development: lifelong learning as a priority in Norway and the Czech Republic?’, Higher Education Policy 30(4).Google Scholar
  49. Stensaker, B. and Harvey, L. (2011) Accountability in Higher Education: Global Perspectives on Trust and Power, New york: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  50. Sæther, B., Mønnesland, J., Onsager, K., Sørlie, K. and Arboe, P. (2000) Høgskolenes regionale betydning [The regional importance of university colleges], Oslo: Norwegian Institute of Urban and Regional Research.Google Scholar
  51. Sørensen, M.P., Bloch, C. and Young, M. (2016) ‘Excellence in the knowledge-based economy: from scientific to research excellence’, European Journal of Higher Education 6(3): 217–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Young, M. (2014) ‘Coarsely ground: developing the Czech system of research evaluation’, in J. Brankovic, M. Klemencic, P. Lazetic and P. Zgaga (eds.) Global Challenges, Local Responses in Higher Education. The contemporary issues in national and comparative perspective, Rotterdam: Sense, pp. 15–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Association of Universities 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rómulo Pinheiro
    • 1
    Email author
  • James Karlsen
    • 1
  • Jan Kohoutek
    • 2
  • Mitchell Young
    • 2
  1. 1.AgderforskningKristiansandNorway
  2. 2.Centre for Higher Education StudiesPragueCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations