From 'ivory tower traditionalits' to 'entrepreneurial scientists'? Academic scientists in fuzzy university-industry boundaries

Image of Royal Holloway School of Management working papers cover
Document type
Working Paper
Author(s)
Lam, Alice
Publisher
Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of publication
1 May 2009
Series
School of Management Working Paper Series
Subject(s)
Trends: economic, social and technology trends affecting business
Collection
Business and management
Material type
Reports

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Growing intensity of university-industry ties has generated an intense debate about the changing norms and practices of academic scientific work. This study challenges the protagonists’ views on the emergence of a dominant market ethos in academic science and growing influence of the ‘new school’ entrepreneurial scientists. It argues that academic scientists are active agents shaping the relationships between science and business, and shows continued diversity in their work orientations. Drawing on neo-institutional theory and the notion of ‘boundary work’, the study examines how scientists seek to protect and negotiate their positions, and also make sense of their professional role identities. It identifies four different orientations, the ‘traditional’ and ‘entrepreneurial’, with two hybrid types in between. The hybrids are the dominant category and are particularly adept at exploiting the ambiguities of ‘boundary work’ between academia and industry. The study is based on 36 interviews and a survey sample of 734 academic scientists from five UK research universities.

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