Student Centrality in University-Industry Interactions
Ponomariov, Branco Leonidov
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This thesis proposes and estimates a model of university scientists interactions with the private sector; in this model students are conceptualized as an important enabler of such interactions. The results of the study show that university scientists student-related behaviors such as grant support of students and research collaboration with students, and student-related attitudes such as mentoring orientation positively affect the probability that scientists will enter interactions with industry as well as the intensity of such interactions. Behaviors such as teaching and advising of students are not related to interactions with industry. This study is motivated by the increased emphasis on closer relationships between universities and industry as a means to facilitate the commercial application of university research. Today, numerous policies and programs attempt to achieve such goals. As a result, university scientists are called on to perform many tasks which on the surface seem misaligned. There is substantial study of conflict between the teaching and research missions of universities, and a growing body of study on conflict related to university based commercial and technology transfer related activities. Fewer, there are studies suggesting that these activities are not so misaligned after all. This study falls into the latter category as it posits a complementary relationship between university scientists student related activities and their work related interactions with industry, research and otherwise. Speculations regarding the importance of students in university industry relations and indirect evidence are scattered through the relevant literature, but little or no systematic empirical tests of their importance exist. This study uses data from a national survey of university researchers to discern the centrality of students to university-industry interactions. Theoretically, students are conceptualized as a dimension of university scientists respective research capacities that enable cross-sectoral processes of accumulative advantage and thereby help to enable their interactions with industry. As a component of scientists scientific and technical human capital, students help university scientists to identify and act upon on research opportunities originating in the private sector. Moreover, students increase the appeal of university scientists to industry agents seeking research partners in academe. Implications for theory and policy are discussed.