On Comparative Research In Higher Education

  • Jussi VÄlimaa
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 24)

Comparative studies and comparative research settings have contributed significantly to the theoretical development of higher education research. Burton Clark developed his influential theoretical device after having studied systems other than US higher education (Clark 1983). ‘Clark's triangle’ is, however, only one of the intellectual devices developed in comparative research. Equally interesting is the concept ‘fields of social action’ as introduced by Bleiklie, Hostaker and Vabo (2000), which was developed, again, in a comparative research setting. Comparative studies have also challenged us to define different categories of higher education traditions and systems, thus providing useful intellectual devices for placing one's national higher education system in a larger context (Gellert 1993; Teichler 1988). Historical comparative studies have, in turn, increased our understanding of various traditions and origins of Western universities (e.g. Rashdall 1895; Cobban 1988).

Comparative studies have been especially popular as a research strategy in European Higher education studies. According to Ulrich Teichler (1996), one of the reasons for this is that the number of higher education researchers is quite small in most individual European states. This has created a need for a broader basis of thought. In addition, new political (and academic) interests in monitoring European developments in a comparative research setting have emerged, because of the pressures to harmonise and standardise the European higher education area through the Bologna process over the last years.


High Education Comparative Research High Education System Social Dynamic National System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jussi VÄlimaa
    • 1
  1. 1.University of JyväskyläNetherlands

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