Forms of embeddedness and discourses of engagement: a case study of universities in their local environment

Yann Lebeau, Alice Bennion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The paper explores two universities' strategies of impact and engagement and their perceptions by local economic and policy stakeholders in a post-industrial city of Scotland. The concept of structural embeddedness is used to unpack the logics and repertoires of action of local universities and to relate discourses and actions to the nature and intensity of the relationship between universities and the local context. In contrast with the dominant knowledge and innovation research paradigm presenting universities as key drivers of regional economic development and competitiveness, the paper suggests multiple and at times contradictory levels of impact of universities depending on their capacity to embed themselves in regional development strategies and socio-economic regeneration programmes. The conclusion suggests that the nature and returns of universities' local engagement approaches are determined by their position on the higher education market as much as by their embeddedness in the local economy, culture and polity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-293
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number2
Early online date12 Sep 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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