Justification work in a university merger: the case of the University of Eastern Finland

Mikko Kohvakka (2021)

European Journal of Higher Education. Online first

Abstract. This paper analyses the phenomena of co-existence of competing moral principles in a university merger. In doing so, the paper builds on Boltanski and Thévenot’s theoretical framework of orders of worth to account for the ways in which different social actors, both inside and outside academia, actively engage in justification work to solve disputes arising from mergers between universities. This justification work is empirically explored through illustrative examples involving the university merger between the Universities of Joensuu and Kuopio, which resulted in the establishment of the University of Eastern Finland in 2010. Based on the findings, the paper offers a new micro-level insight into the composition of novel academic communities as well as academic personnel who have to cope with the plurality of moral principles and resolve legitimacy struggles on a day-to-day basis during and after the merger.

Link to the review