Is University Management Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution for Problem-Based Learning Development and Critical Thinking?

  • Birgitte GregersenEmail author


This chapter discusses opportunities and barriers for management to support and develop PBL curriculum as a response to the populist/political agendas that influence contemporary society. At the university level, populist agendas are reflected in increasing marketization, governance principles based on New Public Management, and growing expectations to ‘deliver’ on a short-term basis world-class graduates and research applicable to local industries and provide solutions to world grand challenges. Three statements structure the discussion. First, disciplinary silos in education and research need to be opened up to stimulate cross-disciplinary collaboration in order to practise PBL when solving important societal problems. Second, all three university missions—teaching, research, and external collaboration—need to be synchronized and integrated to develop a true-hearted PBL approach. Third, university governance and management structures need to be aligned with a PBL approach to allow for experiments and critical thinking.


  1. Beiter, Klaus D. 2019. Where Have All the Scientific and Academic Freedoms Gone? And What Is ‘Adequate for Science’? The Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and Its Applications. Israel Law Review 52 (2): 233–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benneworth, Paul, Rómulo Pinheiro, and Mabel Sánchez-Barrioluengo. 2016. One Size Does Not Fit All! New Perspectives on the University in the Social Knowledge Economy. Science and Public Policy 43 (6): 731–735.Google Scholar
  3. Bento, Fabio. 2011. A Complex Perspective Towards Leadership in Academic Departments: Investigating Organisational Changes in a Norwegian Research-Intensive Academic Department. International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management 1 (2): 116–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Child, John. 2019. Hierarchy – A Key Idea for Business and Society. Oxfordshire: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Churchman, Deborah, and Sharron King. 2008. Academic Work in Transition: Hidden Stories of Academic Identities. In Insightful Encounters—Regional Development and Practice-based Learning. Paper Presented At Conference on Regional Development and Innovation Processes, Porvoo-Borgå Finland, March 5–7.Google Scholar
  6. Clark, Burton R. 1998. Creating Entrepreneurial Universities: Organizational Pathways of Transformation. Bingley: Emerald.Google Scholar
  7. Danish University Act. 2003. 403, May 28, Accessed 14 Oct 2019.
  8. Etzkowitz, Henry. 2003. Innovation in Innovation: The Triple Helix of University-Industry-Government Relations. Social Science Information 42 (3).Google Scholar
  9. Gibbons, Michael, Camille Limoges, Helga Nowotny, Simon Schwartzman, Peter Scott, and Martin Trow. 1994. The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Gregersen, Birgitte. 2017. Role of Universities for Inclusive Development and Social Innovation: Experiences from Denmark. In Universities, Inclusive Development and Social Innovation: An International Perspective, ed. Bo Göransson, Claes Brundenius, and José M. Carvalho de Mello. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  11. Gregersen, Birgitte, and Jørgen Gulddahl Rasmussen. 2011. Developing Universities: The Evolving Role of Academic Institutions in Denmark. In Universities in Transition – The Changing Role and Challenges for Academic Institutions, ed. Bo Göransson and Claes Brundenius, 283–305. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  12. Gregersen, Birgitte, Lisbeth Tved Linde, and Jorgen Gulddahl Rasmussen. 2009. Linking Between Danish Universities and Society. Science and Public Policy 36 (2): 151–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kubler, Jay, and Nicola Sayers. 2010. Higher Education Futures: Key Themes and Implications for Leadership and Management. Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Research and Development Series.Google Scholar
  14. Lundvall, Bengt-Åke. 2002. The University in the Learning Economy. Danish Research Unit for Industrial Dynamics Working Paper, 6. Aalborg University.Google Scholar
  15. Middlehurst, Robin. 2004. Changing Internal Governance: A Discussion of Leadership Roles and Management Structures in UK Universities. Higher Education Quarterly 58 (4): 258–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mintzberg, Henry. 1993. Structure in Fives: Designing Effective Organizations. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  17. Molas-Gallart, Jordi, Ammon Salter, Pari Patel, Alister Scott, and Xavier Duran. 2002. Measuring Third Stream Activities. In Final Report to the Russell Group of Universities. Brighton: SPRU, University of Sussex.Google Scholar
  18. Nowotny, Helga, Peter B. Scott, and Michael T. Gibbons. 2001. Re-Thinking Science –Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  19. Scott, Peter. 2017. Undisciplining Knowledge: Interdisciplinarity in the Twentieth Century. Interdisciplinary Science Review 41 (4): 2016.Google Scholar
  20. ———. 2018. Compliance and Creativity: Dilemmas for University Governance. European Review 26 (S1): 35–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Shattock, Michael. 2002. Re-Balancing Modern Concepts of University Governance. Higher Education Quarterly 56 (3): 235–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Van de Ven, Andrew H. 2007. Engaged Scholarship – A Guide for Organizational and Social Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

Personalised recommendations