Embracing Change at the Adaptable University

  • Edward Crawley
  • John Hegarty
  • Kristina Edström
  • Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez


How does a university change?

Change is necessary at universities that seek to strengthen knowledge exchange and their impact on innovation. Such change is possible and need not be disruptive. It builds on the historic mission of education and research and expands the evolving role of catalyzing innovation.

Throughout their evolution, from ancient teaching academies to contemporary multifaceted institutions, universities have demonstrated an ability of change. The difference is that the pace of change is quickening.

In this book, we present elements that support change at an effective pace. We provided an integrated and systematic approach to knowledge exchange, eleven academic practices each with a rationale and key actions, a framework for an adaptive university, and case studies demonstrating general applicability.

The approach to change depends on the circumstances.

An existing university needs to consider the important strengths of the university’s culture, including collegiality, thought leadership, and the importance of evidence and piloting.

A university system should consider what constitutes a strong system—ambition greater than the sum of the parts, differentiation to allow excellence, competition to avoid complacency, and collaboration to achieve economy of scale.

For newly founded universities, everything has to be created including the culture itself. This requires a careful founding process, enthusiastic champions, definition of vision, and staged implementation.


Change Organizational change Disruption Evolution Knowledge exchange Impact Education Research Catalyzing innovation Adaptable, pace of change Systematic approach Effective practices Adaptable framework University system New university Startup university 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Crawley
    • 1
  • John Hegarty
    • 2
  • Kristina Edström
    • 3
  • Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez
    • 1
  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Trinity College DublinDublinIreland
  3. 3.KTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

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