The purpose of Protée is to provide support through research of university restructuring processes, not just in France, but also in Europe.  The aim is to use research to help resolve problems so the people involved in managing complex changes can cope with the risks they encounter, by helping them understand and analyse the university processes of concentrations and mergers, thereby providing ideas for the deliberations of the university communities concerned.

To do this, Protée should provide an understanding of the interdependencies between the change process components, such as the sequence of events, tools, control systems, power relationships and methods of fitting the universities into their diverse communities (scientific, local, etc.) by cross-matching the results of investigations carried out from different angles, different tools and on different scales.

The scientific knowledge produced by Protée should reveal and address the diversity and complexity of the higher education landscape, with the goal of supporting the transformations underway.

To this end, the project will be planned based on the principles described hereafter.

1. A diversity of Protée network member disciplinary approaches and profiles will be sought to reflect the diversity of the field, with the aim of maximum openness.

  • Consequently, the goal of the Protée programme is to receive research projects beyond the circle of specialist researchers in the higher education field, thereby mobilising and transposing scientific skills developed on other study subjects. More generally, all initiatives likely to contribute to the Protée objectives will be welcome, whether they are carried out by researchers or by practitioners and participants who, through their field experience, have identified situations or developed practices likely to supplement the research work and support the changes underway.
  • These different initiatives/projects will provide insights within the context of the Protée research orientation.

2. Strong preference will be given to the comparative approach: it will make it possible to “denaturalise” and provide insight into the diversity and complexity of situations.

3. Research-action approaches, which aim to transform the reality by relying on producing knowledge and involve both the researcher and local participants, will be central to the programme, even if classical academic approaches are not excluded.

4. Regarding scope and scale:

  • Protée covers the processes of concentrations and mergers in ARI (Academic and research institutions) at the scale of geographic sites or within institutions, whether it involves mergers or other types of concentration (e.g.; associations or university & academic clusters (COMUE) in France)
  • Protée covers both the processes of concentrations and mergers already completed and the processes underway.
  • Protée will cover higher education institutions in the broad sense of the term. If public institutions are the primary target, private institutions are not excluded.
  • The Protée programme may develop with a dual aim:  French, by taking the many university processes of concentrations and mergers underway as a comparative study laboratory for the differentiation process, and European for the identification and contextualised study of classic examples providing new leads or ideas in the differentiation process and complex change management. Nevertheless, comparative European wide studies are not excluded if the financial and human resources can be mobilised to develop and carry out European wide comparative projects.
  • Macro” level studies (European/national/geographic site) should make it possible to contextualise the institutional changes studied.
  • Meso” level (components within an institution) and “micro” level (individual participant) studies will provide a detailed understanding of the change processes, which the comparative approach and the contextualisation work will integrate into a systemic representation of ARI changes.