The devil is in the detail - making sense of risk and trust in university - industry partnerships
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University-industry partnerships (UIPs) are growing exponentially in OECD countries yet surprisingly, when one examines the research on cross-sector collaborations, particularly in R&D, evidence is inconclusive about what sorts of partnerships are more likely to succeed. This lecture explores the nature of UIPs and the risks associated with cross-sector collaborations involving the commercialization of R&D. The concept of risk has had a relatively short history in the study of R&D collaborations in general, and hardly any at all in the context of UIPs. The modern concept of risk predates universities and in this lecture I explore three major risks that are now of concern to all universities arising from aggressive technology transfer policies. These include: financial risks, performance and relational risks, especially the importance of trust in UIPs, and reputation risks associated with the “public good” role of universities. There is much hype and “spin-doctoring” surrounding commercialization in universities. While it is not suggested that commercialization should be discouraged – far from it - the lecture does signal the need for universities to be far more risk oriented in how they go about it.
School of Marketing and Management
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