Temple, P.(Ed.) (2012) Universities in the Knowledge Economy: Higher Education Organisation and Global Change, London: Routledge

Number of pages: 250

Cost: none given

Our universities….are the foundation of our knowledge economy’ (BIS, 2009, p. 55)

Paul Temple has gathered together academics from across the world that share an interest in higher education policy. Temple recognises that universities have become the drivers for the knowledge economy and as a consequence our economic and social future. in that they support economic growth and regeneration locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Whilst not based on research the author claims an overall research question for the book ‘ what is, and what should be, the function of the university in the knowledge economy? The book provides a theoretical and empirical analysis and covers a critical overview of the complex connections between knowledge creation, the knowledge economy and higher education.

Universities in the Knowledge Economy is written in three parts that address:

  • Understanding universities as knowledge producers
  • Some regional perspectives on universities and knowledge production, and
  • Conceptual approaches of universities’ knowledge

The first part considers the history of how universities became known as knowledge producers, and bring the work up to date in terms of how universities manage enterprise partnerships , knowledge transfer and intellectual property in this new and sometime unfamiliar business type landscape.

The second part offers reflections from across the world drawing on examples from the United States of America, China, and Central Europe. This gives some good comparison with how universities in other countries are tackling and resolving similar issues

Part 3 focuses on how we see the student community in the midst of this approach and viewing knowledge as ‘transformation’. The final chapter introduces in interesting concept of ‘liquid knowledge’ given that knowledge ahs become increasingly fluid. This is both within the interdisciplinarity and in the boundaries of knowledge dissolving between knowledge and belief.

The book is part of a series in international studies in Higher Education created to acknowledge the fundamental changes that universities are facing due to local and global pressures.

Universities in the Knowledge Economy draws on a historical perspective in terms of how universities have got to where they are through the analysis of recent policy developments and other research. Then the author lays out the current scene in terms of how as world has changed and national governments have put different demands on universities. The expectations are great and sometimes quite radical. Whether the rhetoric of universities in playing an activity part in the knowledge economy can match the practicalities of an academic working within the new framework with old approaches to contracting and practice is still open for debate. To do so would mean becoming familiar with and responding to the emergent knowledge architectures and truly developing the intellectual capital in a more purposeful way.

It is a very thought provoking book, as someone who has lived through some of those changes in the last two decades and at the forefront of universities trying to take their place in this new arena. The challenges are still there, to the senior leaders of our universities and the policy makers. Challenges that will support further changes in how our universities operate. The points made should be taken seriously and should lead to changes in practice.

The author says that this book is both ‘intellectual and operational and suitable for those interested in higher education policy and practice, and the theory of higher education’. It is definitely a book worth having on any relevant postgraduate programme related to higher education studies.


BIS(2009) higher Ambitions: The future of Universities in a Knowledge Economy. London: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Dr Coleen R Jackson. Consultant Principal, Waverley Abbey College (Higher Education)