Capturing skills and innovation from collaborative relationships - applying process based approach to university-industry linkages

Speaker: Dr Fumi Kitagawa # Business School, University of Edinburgh

9th Nov 2015

15:30 - 17:00

Staff Room, 6th floor, Crystal Macmillan Building, George Square, University of Edinburgh

Over the last two decades, university–industry collaboration, the commercialisation of research results and the protection and exploitation of intellectual property emanating from universities have become major agenda towards the promotion of innovation and economic development. However, our knowledge about ‘educational impacts’ of university-industry interactions is generally thin. In parallel, there has been a growing research and policy interest across many countries on new forms of ‘collaborative doctoral training’ between academia and industry. This paper aims to build a framework in order to better understand doctoral students’ learning experiences and how industry partners’ perceptions of collaborative experiences affect future relationship building with the university. Drawing on a series of empirical findings focusing on one of the industrial collaborative doctoral research training schemes (EngD/IDC) evolved over two decades in the UK, the paper develops a conceptual framework to capture a variety of impacts of doctoral students’ collaborative relationship building between academia and industry. This is followed by more specific accounts of the industry’s perceptions of the impacts of the Industrial Doctorate Centre (IDC) scheme highlighting different motivations and benefits. Illustrations of individual doctoral students’ perceptions highlight tensions found in micro-dynamics of being ‘boundary spanners’, who work across organisational boundaries, disciplinary boundaries and between university and industry. Collaboration entails uncertainties and messy social processes. Those experiences of collaborative doctoral students as boundary spanners need to be legitimised as part of the collective learning processes - building of collaborative systems of knowledge production and exchanges between different incentive mechanisms. The paper concludes by highlighting the complexity and methodological challenges of evaluating impacts of such collaborative relationships building. Policy implications and recommendations are discussed in light of the recent changes in doctoral training schemes and expectations of the industry engagement and research impact.

Keywords: Collaborative industrial doctoral research training, boundary spanning, university-industry relationships, impact, measurement

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