About University-Society Co-Creation

Rising complexity in today's society is causing growing social challenges. Interdisciplinary partnerships, networks and socio-technical solutions solve these challenges (Brandt et al., 2019). Higher education institutions (HEIs) are expected to assume greater social responsibility as the "Third Mission" (TM) (Olo et al., 2021).

As a part of this mission, university-society co-creation (USC) with social actors is targeted (Spigarelli, 2020). This paper intends to help successfully strengthen co-creation influenced by diverse conditions and co-creation factors. In addition, this research draws on a focus group that uses a combination of planned behaviour theory and attribution theory to identify and explain the constellations of intention and evaluation of behaviourthat influence academic engagement with social actors. Thus, the USC framework intends to support strategic and operational decision-making by guiding the requirements for successful co-creation.

Co-creation with different stakeholders has become an essential part of the higher education institution (HEI) activity (Bischoff et al., 2017). Defined as a 'joint action for mutual benefit' (Dugatkin et al., 1992), co-creation increases competition for innovation and growth (Baaken, 2019). Advantages of co-creation show mutual knowledge transfer that can tackle society's current and future challenges (Healy, 2012). Hence, one solution for these upcoming problems is HEI's Third Mission (TM) taking over their responsibility through university-society co-creation (USC). The current research focuses on barriers, drivers, and co-creation factors for co-creation between HEIs and their business partners (Galan-Muros, 2018). However, co-creation success differs in dependency on the co-creation goals and types (Baaken, 2019). Hence, in the case of co-creation between higher education institutions and societal actors, this study focuses on the individual co-creation factors between higher education institutions and society.

USC Process

In line with the mentioned research questions, we first present the co-creation factors influencing the co-creation process between higher education institutions and social actors. In support of these findings, we offer the focus group testimonies on the influence of these co-creation factors on USC. We have identified co-creation factors and their impact on the USC process (c. Figure 1). Of course, co-creation factors in US co-creation may differ in dependency of the regionality from the co-creation factors listed below.

USC Supporting mechanism

Policies & Guidelines
Based on Cyert and Goodman 1997, organisational differences can cause barriers and transcend these through appropriate structures and management (Perkmann et al., 2011). However, the interviewees emphasised that the funding agencies' requirements had hindered them during the US project based on project management requirements (c. table 6). Academics followed project-related guidelines, although "much was outdated and no longer feasible in the current development" (Person 2, Focusgroup 2, No.2021). The interviewees demanded a free design in the process, e.g., project management, to act stylishly and practically.

Strategies are essential for higher education institutions, especially in the long-term implementation of decisions, and offer a way to keep HEI goals focused and achievable (Davey & Galan-Muros 2013). Respondents also rated the importance of strategies within US co-creation as essential. In addition to the established higher education goals, co-creation needs a plan for an optimal transfer of information. In other words, transfer strategies should provide a flow of information between funding agencies, HEI management, academics and social actors (c. table 6). The equal distribution of information can bridge the differences in cultures (Perkmann et al., 2011) to bring all parties to the same level of knowledge needed for successful co-creation (Schmidt & Schönheim, 2021). Finally, the project's start requires crucial communication within the identity process.

Funding programmes
The governments ' funding decreased in parallel with the crises (Makkonen, 2013). Such a financial decrease harms co-creation (Bercovitz & Feldmann, 2006). Still, in the case of US co-creation, the duration of funding programmes is more important than the budget. In US co-creation, social challenges are solved jointly, for which adequate time planning is needed (Schmidt & Schönheim, 2021). Especially in the transfer process, co-creation parties have to go through a familiarisation process (Kurzhals et al., 2021). This aspect is often not included in the funding programme (c. table 6). Within the familiarisation phase and method, identity develops between both actors by defining a common goal for the society's benefit. In addition to this primary objective, academics must also produce data and results to present to the funding authority. On the other hand, the social actors cannot benefit from these research results. Consequently, a temporal expansion of these funding programmes should focus more on the pooled results of the US co-creation partners.

USC Circumstances

Co-creation factors contributing to fostering co-creation are resources, the potential to generate knowledge, a common goal, project-related motivation and a direct added value for the region.
Resources, which can be in the form of human-related resources and digital resources (cf. input), offer the potential to reach a wider audience (c. table 7). At the same time, human-related resources with the attributes of, e.g. empathy enable an accelerated willingness to cooperate. Knowledge gain can ease the challenge of convincing social co-creation partners to collaborate. In other words, the mutual benefit of all actors promotes the course of co-creation and the associated motivation. To make this common benefit recognisable, a common goal and joint questioning support the start of co-creation. In addition, the social actors can be particularly encouraged to cooperate if the social actors' region can benefit from the co-creation. The interviewees also emphasised that intrinsic and project-related motivation is crucial to transfer this motivation to social actors.

The interviewees evaluated that the third-party funding agreements' requirements (loss of freedom) were barriers. Here, participants stated the difficulty of balancing between the organisations' and the social actors' requirements. Particularly challenging are the requirements for providing evidence of research data and results and, at the same time, generating benefits for society.

USC Context

Co-creation factors that influence the US co-creation process but cannot be changed are academic age and professional experience, a sympathetic appearance, believable interest, groundedness and connection to the region. Understanding other disciplines and their mindset and responsibilities make US co-creation and its success run smoother. Furthermore, academics must appear sympathetic regardless of their rank. The academics facilitate the entry into the co-creation starting at an " equal level". Similarly, if there is no fundamental interest of the co-creation partners in the counterpart, it slowly makes the course of co-creation more complex and successful. The same goes for the grounding. A co-creation requires a fundamental attitude and a slow start of co-creation

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