Towards a bottom-up approach to university place-leadership: aligning institutional strategy to support academic agency

Liliana Fonseca, Lisa Nieth, Maria Salomaa, Paul Benneworth

Research output: Other contribution


In our research, we have approached universities’ institutional architecture and regional place-leadership potential by adapting literature from Benneworth, Pinheiro, & Karlsen (2014), Clark (1998) and Nedeva (2008). We think of the “university” as being made up of five elements: Formal leadership, that enters into formal agreements and which to the outside world appears to speak for the university; Academic staff, the real heart of the university, that organise themselves into disciplines and units that reflect their own teaching and research needs; Formal structures, that hold these diverse academic communities together such as committees and policies; Informal institutions, that is shared understandings of what it means for diverse academics to do ‘good’ teaching, research and public activities; Potential support structures, such as technology transfer offices or science parks that promote engagement activities. In a forthcoming chapter (Fonseca et al., 2020), we have explored the ways in which these different elements, that we term ‘the university institutional architecture’, hang together, and the consequences this has for universities’ place leadership roles. We used this framework to compare six European regions where universities have been making serious efforts to engage locally, namely Aveiro (Portugal), Lincolnshire (UK), North Denmark (Denmark), Satakunta (Finland), Twente (Netherlands) and Vallès Occidental (Spain).
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputBlog
Place of Publication[Newcastle]
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2019


  • universities
  • place-based leadership
  • leadership
  • regional development
  • engagement

Cite this