Public sector reform tends to harbour competing ambitions, problems and solutions. Reforms in higher education policy are no exception. They are often multi-faceted phenomena, partly because higher education institutions are complex organizations with wide-ranging expectations and demands from a variety of stakeholders. This chapter argues that higher education institutions cannot ‘organize away’ competing objectives, but rather aim to create organizational designs which help complex institutions to live with complex reforms. The chapter examines the ‘Structural Reform’ in Norwegian higher education and how higher education institutions responded.
Launched in April 2015, it resulted in a large-scale organizational redesign of the higher education landscape through merger processes between university colleges as well as between universities and university colleges. As with other reforms in higher education, the Structural Reform focused on several desirable but competing objectives such as high- quality education and research, regional development and world leading academic environments.