© 2018

Rankings and Global Knowledge Governance

Higher Education, Innovation and Competitiveness

  • Argues that rankings and indicators are constitutive elements of global knowledge governance

  • Explores how higher education and innovation policies have become central aspects in national economic competitiveness

  • Examines the history of rankings, their politicization, their shifting practices and growing fragmentation


Part of the Palgrave Studies in Global Higher Education book series (PSGHE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Tero Erkkilä, Ossi Piironen
    Pages 1-17
  3. Tero Erkkilä, Ossi Piironen
    Pages 19-50
  4. Tero Erkkilä, Ossi Piironen
    Pages 51-82
  5. Tero Erkkilä, Ossi Piironen
    Pages 83-121
  6. Tero Erkkilä, Ossi Piironen
    Pages 123-175
  7. Tero Erkkilä, Ossi Piironen
    Pages 219-249
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 251-260

About this book


Higher education and innovation policies are today seen as central elements in national economic competitiveness, increasingly measured by global rankings. The book analyses the evolution of indicator-based global knowledge governance, where various national attributes have been evaluated under international comparative assessment. Reflecting this general trend, the Shanghai ranking, first published in 2003, has pressured governments and universities all over the world to improve their performance in global competition. More recently, as global rankings have met criticism for their methodology and scope, measurements of various sizes and shapes have proliferated: some celebrating novel methodological solutions, others breaking new conceptual grounds. This book takes a fresh look at developments in the field of knowledge governance by showing how emerging indicators, innovation indexes and subnational comparisons are woven into the existing fabric of measurements that govern our ideas of higher education, innovation and competitiveness. This book argues that while rankings are becoming more numerous and fragmented, the new knowledge products, nevertheless, tend to reproduce ideas and practices existing in the field of global measurement.


university rankings national economic competitiveness policy instruments knowledge economy field structuration global rankings

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Ministry for Foreign Affairs of FinlandHelsinkiFinland

About the authors

Tero Erkkilä is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His previous publications include Government Transparency (2012) and Global University Rankings (2013), both published by Palgrave Macmillan.
Ossi Piironen is Senior Researcher at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland. He has published in various peer reviewed journals and has several years of experience teaching in global governance and methodology of political science at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


“Erkkilä and Piironen have done an impressive study of the rise and impact of the greatly expanded system of global rankings -- particularly of universities and higher education.  Rankings play a central governance role in national (and world) societies, especially as these are now seen as “knowledge societies,” so this study will be of great and general interest.” (John W. Meyer, Stanford University, USA)

“This book’s special and very original contribution to a growing field of research is revealing the common features of various sorts of rankings going well beyond the field of university rankings, tracing their common ideational background and highlighting the development and fragmentation of rankings with new actors entering the field. Researchers, students, administrators and policy actors get profound insights from reading this carefully researched and well written book.” (Richard Münch, University of Bamberg, Germany)