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11 November 2019 | Münster

The importance of university-business cooperation (UBC) continues to grow, whether this is in research (e.g. joint R&D or commercialisation) or education (e.g. student mobility, curriculum design and delivery of lifelong learning). The increasing efforts of university managers to improve UBC are hindered because a basic question has remained unanswered: what motivates academics to engage in UBC specific to education?

The first point is that university managers need to understand is that the motivations of academics for UBC in research and education activities are different. Those academics engaging in education are more driven by intrinsic than extrinsic motivations; this is, by social and education-focused reasons, rather than research, monetary and career benefits. These motivations are also different for each of the education-driven UBC activities namely student mobility, curriculum design, curriculum delivery and lifelong learning.

In addition, university managers should consider that academic autonomy is not only essential in teaching and research, but also in facilitating academic engagement in education-driven UBC, with competence and relatedness being highly relevant too. Academics collaborate more actively with businesses in education when they are able to decide for themselves (UBC autonomy) whether they wish to engage in relationships with external stakeholders or not. Academics who have UBC know-how (UBC competence) and feel connected to their institution with a positive attitude towards UBC (UBC relatedness) appear to be strong collaborators in education-driven cooperation.

To increase the cooperation of academics, managers should consider the inclusion of these factors as part of their incentive systems for UBC, adapting their importance depending on the type of cooperation they want to encourage.

These are some of the results of two scientific papers that (i) Balzhan Orazbayeva, Todd Davey, Carolin Plewa, Victoria Galan Muros and (ii) Balzhan Orazbayeva, Peter van der Sijde and Thomas Baaken have recently published in the journal Studies in Higher Education:

The data used in the papers were collected as part of the project The State of University-Business Cooperation in Europe conducted from 2016 to 2018 by a consortium led by the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre, Germany for the DG Education and Culture, European Commission (EAC/10/2015).

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