Built to be excellent? The Aalto University merger in Finland

Janne Tienari*, Hanna Mari Aula, Timo Aarrevaara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In the Finnish higher education system, government steering and the interests of industry and business have come to focus on the impact of the university in society. In 2010, Aalto University was created in a merger of three universities representing different academic fields. The new university developed a forward-looking strategy, restructured its operations to serve a new innovative and interdisciplinary institutional profile or brand, and to attract top talent across the world introduced an academic tenure track career system unprecedented in Finland. In this article, we identify strategy, branding, and human resources systems as key integrative mechanisms in the merger process and consider some of the complexities and contradictions in a merging university's drive for ‘excellence’ from the perspective of the identity of academic faculty members. We also consider more general implications of the Aalto merger for understanding the opportunities and challenges presented by contemporary university mergers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-40
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • branding
  • human resources
  • identity
  • integration
  • strategy
  • University merger

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