Demystifying Academics to Enhance University - Business Collaboration

University-derived research (e.g. science) is useful in ‘real world’ business applications, so effective collaboration is desirable. However, for work to actually proceed, strategic and policy-level drivers must align with the incentive structures and constraints upon individual university-based scientists and their motivations. This briefing aims to foster collaborations by providing a view from the perspective of individual academics. Specifically, it examines workload (i.e. specified tasks) and incentive structures (i.e. assessment criteria) to tackle two questions: What motivates academics to do specific work? And, reciprocally, what might constrain them? In light of this specific, pragmatic actions, including short-term and time-efficient steps are proposed in a ‘user guide’ to help initiate and nurture collaborations. And, some modes of institutional support are suggested.

Main Points

- Like other professions academics suffer time pressure, i.e. amid 20-50 key duties up to 0.5 days per week might potentially be found for activities with ‘real world’ impact.

- Typically, for impact-related activities others must be sacrificed (e.g. research), creating a tension.

- As yet, even in countries strongly promoting collaboration, the overriding imperative remains for academics to publish research (i.e. peer-reviewed journal articles).

- Thus, to justify working with business, impact-related work must inspire curiosity and facilitate future novel research (e.g. science) to mitigate this conflict.