Keynote Speakers

Dr. Bjørn Stensaker


"Academic development as cultural work - the fragmentation of higher education institutions and the need for integration"

While higher education institutions increasingly are expected to behave as strategic actors with coherent actions and more integrated external profiles, one can also note developments that contribute to greater specialization, professionalization and fragmentation within these organizations. These processes relate to both administrative and academic activities within universities, and may have consequences for how academic development work is conducted. Historically, academic development work may be said to have gone through different phases ranging from technical to strategic, from discipline-based to generic, and from emphasizing teaching and learning to include a more organizational orientation. It is argued that current developments of universities adds to the complexity of academic development work, and that the ambitions of universities to become strategic actors heavily depends on a number of activities that can foster integration and facilitate a more collective orientation among staff and students. The keynote describe current developments driving the fragmentation of universities, the implications and potential risks associated with the development, and the potential role academic development may play as an integrating force. Cultural work is identified as a potential concept for academic developers to explore – both as a way to maintaining relevance within the university and as a point-of-departure for adapting to future changes.


Dr. Bjørn Stensaker is a professor of Higher Education at the University of Oslo, where he coordinates the work related to academic staff development. The research interests of Dr. Stensaker are focused on quality development work, organizational change and governance in higher education, and he has published widely on these topics. His most recent book is; Stensaker, B., Välimaa, J. & Sarrico, C. (eds.) (2012) "Managing Reform in Universities. The Dynamics of culture, identity and organizational change". Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.