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The heterogeneity of European Higher Education Institutions. A configurational approach

Lepori, Benedetto

To investigate the heterogeneity of Higher Education Institutions (HEI), this paper builds on the
literature on organizational typologies and on HEI diversity to construct a conceptual model that is
tested on a large sample of European HEIs. Results show that heterogeneity can be represented along
two main axes, i.e. research vs education orientation and the extent of subject specialization. The first
axis associated with the distinction between universities and colleges, but there is a significant extent
of blending with intermediate categories emerging such as ‘new’ universities and research colleges.
On the subject specialization side, the model moves beyond the distinction between generalist and
specialists to identify two distinctive groups of specialists, i.e. technical universities and universities
specialized in a social sciences and humanities. We further envisage deepening the association of
classes with underlying HIE characteristics such as their HEI identity and/or institutional mission.

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