Hybridization of University and Its Societal Environment: Reflections on the Triple Helix Model and Ways Forward

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 17 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Juha TUUNAINEN, University of Oulu, Finland
Kari KANTASALMI, University of Helsinki, Finland
Universities are central organizations in the current knowledge society. They provide new scientific and technological knowledge, educate people to serve the society and alleviate societal problems of various kinds. To these ends universities have been streamlined to perform more efficiently. Simultaneously, the separate institutional spheres of science, university, government, industry and the civil society have intermingled giving rise to hybrid organizations and many related theoretical models that underline the radical change of universities. Of these theories, the current paper will focus on the triple-helix of university-industry-government relations. It will claim that intensified interaction between university, industry and government has given rise to a new, hybrid type of research, which not only advances scientific knowledge but also tries to attain commercially viable products. The paper will summarize the major viewpoints of this theory and reflect on the commentary given to it. To better understand the vices and virtues of the model, it will also analyse the model’s distinct theoretical status and claim that it is ambiguous, as it combines three types of sociological theory, i.e., diagnosis of an era, general sociological theory and research theory. After assessing the status of triple helix, the paper will contribute to the discussion about the model by probing different theoretical avenues that research associated with it might proceed. Of central importance here is systems theory by Niklas Luhmann, as major protagonists of triple helix have used his ideas in discussing the model. The current paper will thus draw concepts from Luhmann’s theory to specify ways in which empirical research associated with triple helix and other hybrid models of university organization could be made more responsive to the multi-functional and internally contradictory character of the contemporary research university.