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Int. j. econ. manag. soc. sci., Vol(5), No (1), March, 2016. pp.


TI Journals

International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences


Copyright 2016. All rights reserved for TI Journals.

The Ideal Type of University in Knowledge Society and Compilating its

Indicators in Comparison to the Traditional University
Hamed Shiri *
Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Payame Noor University, Iran.

Amin Okhrati
MA in Sociology and Teacher at the Education Organization, Marivan, Iran.
*Corresponding author:



knowledge society
Ideal type of university
Modern society

The main issue here, as it is clear in the title, is the improvement in the ideal type of university along with
the emergence of knowledge society and the change in the knowledge nature. It means that the traditional
mode of universities will change to a new formulation of academic one which is convergent with the
knowledge society needs. With analyzing the social theories focused on this change, this article first
compilates the ideal type of university in knowledge society and then according to these new modes we are
going to propose the Indicators to empirically study the university adapted to the knowledge society in
comparison to the traditional one.



The knowledge society is the newest description that has been used as a new concept to describe the realities of the new society by social
scholars. The knowledge society is a society which explains the development, evolution, and change of society based on the concept of
knowledge and knowledge activities [14]. Knowledge society is one in which knowledge is the most important factor of production. By the
emergence of this kind of society, the concept of knowledge and consequently university - as the basic knowledge producer institution, - will
change, the change which have been discussed by social theoreticians in the fields of knowledge and university. The university has been recently
the main issue in social approaches. The main theme in these dialogs has emphasized on the change in the structural and normal system
governing on knowledge and university scope. Although the primitive theories such as Max Weber, Talcott Parsons, and Pierre Bourdieu
approaches emphasize on the university independence in the context of modern social theory , the latest studies have been more critical and have
contested the cohesion of modernity project in the globalization and postmodern age generally, and the concept of university exclusively [3].
The emerging of knowledge society has improved the access to knowledge and its acquisition; and actualizes the need to the education Institutes
and further, the university. Nowadays, university has been changed to an organization to answer the society needs, and mutual relationship
between university and society is one of the basic features of modern university. The improvement in information and communication
technology and getting to higher education, have changed the university and knowledge from the state of elitism to a general institute for public.
On the other hand, we are materializing a declining in innovation and creation and moreover there is a kind of legitimacy crisis in the university
and knowledge nature as well. This will occur in a new society that is incompatible with the University of Knowledge, its responsibility to the
society and applicability. But both sides are the irrefutable facts of knowledge and university in modern society and signify the paradoxical
Supercomplexity state which Barent [1] uses to describes to modern universities; the state which generally signifies the knowledge nature as
well [2].
In this situation, some analysis emphasize on decreasing the importance and role of universities , and in contrast accepting the crisis in modern
university identity, some other approaches relate it to the late modernity changes and believe that universities can take a role through incomplete
project of modernity along with gaining a new identity.
Considering the new views toward knowledge and university in the new knowledge society, the article tries to formulate the ideal type of
university in knowledge society and identify objective index to deliberate universities and other higher educational Institute, by comparing the
traditional patterns with the new ones.


University in knowledge society; the most important theories

The most important theoretical view is the one belongs to Michele Gibbons and his colleagues [8] which is known as the mode 2 knowledge
production. His knowledge pattern is against the one of Robert Merton in which the normal structure or morality of science is the base for
scientific action. Generality, the general nature of knowledge, objectivity and organized doubt, are the main elements of morality in science
according to Mertonian's pattern [7]. Mode 2 knowledge production is a fact adapted to the situation in mode 2 society [9] which will be
identified by the lack of finality in social relations, deep changes in our understanding of time and place, the decadence in governments'
organizational boundaries, economic and culture, the democratization of knowledge and education, and finally globalization [15].
The mode 2 knowledge has different elements which differentiate it from the Mertonian one. First, the mode 2 knowledge is produced in the
context of application [10]. This kind of knowledge wouldn't be produced unless it covers the participants benefits [12]. Secondly, it is transdisciplinarity. This signifies developing an open and different framework to lead attempts toward the problem solving, expanding the research
methods, distributing the results among the knowledge participants and finally the knowledge dynamic which resembles the unforcasting of the
use and development of knowledge [12].Third, is heterogeneity and organizational diversity which causes very new knowledge organizations
[8]. Fourth is the social accountability and reflexivity that points to the influence of problem solving, subject and proposal selection, and the final
application as well [8]. Finally, the fifth is quality control which says that in mode 2 knowledge, scientific peers are not the only reliable source
and multi definition of quality should be considered.

Hamed Shiri *, Amin Okhrati

International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences Vol(5), No (1), March, 2016.

Gibbons theory adds that universities should adapt their form and content with these factors in order to live and do their accountabilities in the
knowledge society.
Gerard Delanty [2] has introduced the newest theoretical analysis about the role of university in a knowledge society. Delanty delineates a new
academic mode that can reconstruct a new identity for the university based on its competence in developing the societies' deductive potentiality
and improving the civic situation in the knowledge society.
Delanty searches the most important changes and challenges in current form of knowledge, which prepare the ground for the new mode, in four
fields; The emerging of diverse knowledge producers along with the government and the effect of globalization on exclusive knowledge
production in Nation-State, extra reliance of contemporary society on knowledge , knowledge massification because of ensuing new kinds
of information technology and knowledge democratization and Undermine self-legitimating of old elites [2].
Delanty [3] believes that upon these conditions, the university organization will come through the communication structure of society.
Communication is a function in current postmodern society to treat. Delanty emphasizes on the function in which Habermas [11] believes in.
University should regenerate the general atmosphere of discourse and join to the civilized society. He states this field has been disappeared by
the decadence in Public domain [11].
The 20th century University protected the democratic values and citizenship against cultural and political totalitarianism and it has been altered
to a place for the progressive and democratic values dissemination such as radical egalitarianism, human rights, feminism and social democracy
in mass education era. According to Delanty, today, universities should continue these activities in cultural citizenship era, too [2, 3].
Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff theory [5, 6]: This theory follows the development in university role and presence of a new related mode to the
university activity in knowledge society from a new point of view through the approach called triple helix of university industry - government.
According to this approach, university has a critical role in the development of national economic and innovative systems. This theory has
passed 3 stage revolutions: in the former mode, the government, governing 2 other institutions. And their relationships and activities is
determined by a national government authority. You can see the most prominent and powerful one in USSR and the existing European countries,
[6]. In the second Helix mode although relations among these 3 institutions will be separated with bold lines of technical, social and cultural
rationality, they still have interplay with each other. At last, in the triple helix mode known as mode 3, each of these institutions plays the others'
roles and some hybrid organizations will be developed with different common units. In the mode 3, university, industry and government overlap
each other through the common parts [6].
Peter Scott [17, 18, and 19] searches the development of knowledge pattern and university identity in the knowledge society, through the
globalization. According to him [18] higher education in the knowledge society, is not limited to elites, anymore and the border between the
royal academic higher education and the pseudo semi-professional has been faded. He shows this change by the difference between the core
university, educating BA and MA students, treat the future researchers and do research activities, with that of distributed university involving all
the activities related to the general diplomacy, a kind of consultative service which is done by the university scholars, and distant education
packs as well [18]. Scott resembles four types of changes in the transition from the core higher education to the distributed one including a
change from courses to credits; from department to programs, from subject-based teaching to student -based learning, and from
knowledge to competence [17].
The improvement in capitalism values in the field of university caused by the globalization is an important factor due to Slaughter and Leslie
[20] in the Academic Capitalism. From this point of view, university and higher education system have been joined to the market through
globalization. This has supplied university financially and on the other hand leads university and knowledge agents (students and teachers)
toward the capitalism and market interests, and therefore the former historical independence of universities will be decreased [20].
The expanded interpretation of Slaughter and Leslie's views has been manifested in the postmodern idea of Lyotard [13]. He has challenged the
modern pattern in the field of knowledge and university. According to Lyotard, knowledge will lose its liberty application in postmodern
situation and university wouldn't have its former autonomy [2]. In this frame the most important interpretation has been introduced in his book
titled The University in Ruins by Bill Readings [16]. He states that university legitimacy is not only because of natural and structural changes
of the university, but also it has been finished because of historical reasons. Readings calls the contemporary university, post-historical
university which has been expired now [16]. The modern academic mode is protecting the modern values such as transmitting the national
culture and identity and attempting for its stabilization, social freedom and finally an Institute to supply national governments, but by emerging
the globalization and decline in national governments and consequently the dissolution in national culture identities, there is no historical need
for legitimacy of recent academic pattern of knowledge [16]. Readings adds that the most important difference between the historical university
and that of post-historical one is changing the state of student to customer where the duties of university will be analyzed according to general
reasoning of accountability [16].


Ideal type of university in knowledge society and its indicators

According to these points of view we can give an ideal type of new academic pattern. In table 1 the ideal type of university in knowledge society
and in table2 the indicators excluding from it according to the theoretical approaches have been represented. Table 2 describes these indicators
combatively in two typical university of traditional society and modern one (knowledge society). These indicators are analytic tools for our
experimental studies.



The main problem is the change in the structure and function of universities and therefore transition to a new knowledge society. According to
many scholars related to university and higher education, this development has been formed differently. Here this article has analyzed these
views and tried to make the ideal patterns of university adapted to knowledge society. Cosmopolitan university, hybrid university, mode 2
university, cultural university, open and distributed university are the most important types which represent the ideal patterns in the knowledge
society. According to this approach, the objective indicators have been finally concluded and through them the convergences and divergences in
universities can be studied, empirically.

The Ideal Type of University in Knowledge Society and Compilating its Indicators in Comparison to the Traditional University
International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences Vol(5), No (1), March, 2016.

Table 1. Ideal type of university in knowledge society

Ideal type

Mode 2


Open and

Genesis fields

Main characteristics

- Delanty (2001a,
- Scott (1998)

A university adapted to
knowledge society is global
and international

-the change in environmental condi

tions caused by globalization
-the development in ICT

-University extraction out o

f national territories and wi
dening their view
- the development of cosmo
politan discourse
-increasing the scientific ex

Negative view

Main assumptions

Positive view


Main theorists

Slaughter and
Leslie (1997)

Globalization is capitalism
values development which
conjuncts higher education to

-entering the
capitalism values into the higher
education territory caused by

-being commercialized the

higher education and
Commoditization of

Etzkowitz and
Leydesdorff (1997,

University, industry and

government overlapping
through innovation process

-the weakness in former models (1

and 2 model) for the relation
among industry, university and
-3 stage evolution of the
relationship among industry
,university and government

Gibbons et al.(1994)

- the knowledge production

mode has been changed
generally and the university
structure has been developed
exclusively by the change in
social conditions and the mode
2 has been altered the mode 1

-emasculation of the university

dependence to the government in
order to search new financial
sources for universities
-pluralism in knowledge generators
-university absorption in general
area of mass society

Delanty(2001a, 2001b)

Improving the societys

deductive potentiality and
upgrading the citizenship is
the new function of university
in knowledge society

-the challenge in moral components

of traditional university
(knowledge university, searching
the fact and cultural cohesion)
- massification of higher education
- Democratization of knowledge

Higher education is not a

limited elitist education and
the border between a noble
academic higher education and
a pseudo one has been faded.

-increasing the illusion in higher

education system and the difficult
detection of university missions.
-increasing the organizational
complexity of higher education
caused by multiple tasks and under
the market pressure.
-university reconfiguration of
universities caused by sharing the
education and research
responsibilities with the other

Scott(1995, 1997, 1998)

-the conjunction among

university ,government and
industry and giving a new
-university has another role
other than education and
research, it is cumulative
participation in innovation
and technology
-the knowledge production
in context of application,
trans-disciplinarity, the h
heterogeneity and diversity
of knowledge producers,
social accountability and
reflexivity, plural quality
-the university orientation
toward connectional
structure of society and
acting in public sphere
-advocating the cultural
citizenship and acting
critically and

-changing from courses to

-changing from
departments to programs
-changing from subject
base to learning
-changing from knowledge
to competence

Hamed Shiri *, Amin Okhrati


International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences Vol(5), No (1), March, 2016.

Table 2. The university indicators in typical universities; traditional university and the new one (knowledge society)


Components and

1) institutional and structural Dimensions

The university indicators in knowledge


The traditional university indicators

- The structural changes due

to the student admission

- the mass university and comprehensive admission

- international admission
- part time admission
- distant admission
- the possibility to change the university and pass
the courses as a guest in other universities

- the core university and other middle class

entrance to the university
- national admission
- full time admission
- course admission
- the necessity to study in the admitted

- The structural changes due

to the teachers employment

-part time and informal employment

-official employment

- The management structure

- program based management

- Participatory and flexible management
- Internal management in designations
- decrease in autonomy

- virtual university

- developing the capacity to ICT in knowledge


- students

- student freedom in education and research

- recurrent and continuous learning
- emphasizing the use of knowledge by studying


- freedom in education and research activities

- acting role as a facilitator

Knowledge activities

- transdisciplinary
- university as a place to produce knowledge and
consequently its relation and participation with
other knowledge producers
- socially useful knowledge and its accountability of
the society

2-substantial and practical Dimensions


Social functions of university


- applied knowledge
-reflexive knowledge and an attempt to act as the
participants in knowledge production
- Flexibility in the production of knowledge and
open borders to participate in the production of
- quality control(Plural and multiple control by the
participants, Intermediaries and users in the
production of knowledge)
-teaching students according the society needs and
connecting directly to the market ,industry and
culture as well
-knowledge distribution via participating in
-interaction and uniformity among knowledge
producers and users
-mutual and triple relations among
industry ,university and government.(triple helix
- Knowledge is defined as the science and culture
-an organization to serve cultural and technological

Technologic and

versus core one

-an organization to serve the society

- Departmental priorities and group based

- Hierarchical management structure
- external university and mostly
governmental management
- autonomy and independence in
-place based university and mostly
traditional relationships
- making students act in definite law frame
- periodical learning and education
- emphasizing the knowledge transmission
and getting the Certification
- the necessity for professors to act in the
definite rule frames
- acting role as a teacher
- disciplinary or at least Interdisciplinary
and multidisciplinary
-university as the only place to produce
scientific and reliable knowledge
-insular knowledge and Accountability to
the requirements of the knowledge
-theoretical and Fundamental knowledge
based on the cognitive and academic values
-objective ,non reflexive and almost
Positivistic knowledge
- Following the scientific rules and norms
and Limited and rigid boundaries
- peer review(Professional control in all
areas of research)
-teaching students to fulfill the cognitive
--knowledge distribution via organizational
-separation and distinction between
knowledge producers and its users
-separated and at least bilateral and mutual
- Knowledge as science and academic
-an organization to serve legal, social and
political citizenship
-an organization to serve the national

-improving the deductive power of society and

developing the citizenship

-searching the fact and cultural cohesion

-an organization to defend the democratic values

against political and cultural totalirism

-an organization to defend national cultural

values and to be responsible for cultural

-distributed: educational and research activities to

affect the general politics making and consulting
services and problem solving

-core: teaching students in different levels

and treat the future researchers


The Ideal Type of University in Knowledge Society and Compilating its Indicators in Comparison to the Traditional University
International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences Vol(5), No (1), March, 2016.




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