Protecting the public's trust: A search for balance among benefits and conflicts in university-industry relationships.
Committee ChairSlaughter, Sheila
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAs the economy shifts from a heavy emphasis on defense science and technology to a focus on the application of innovation to commercial markets, decision makers are eager to learn how to shape successful university-industry partnerships. Given that the trend is toward greater numbers of relationships, this national survey project investigated whether scientists and administrators involved in university-industry cooperation share similar perspectives. It explored the benefits, conflicts and mechanisms related to collaborative activity, and sought to determine the implications for universities, industry, and policies directed towards this collaborative activity. Sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation, this study is one of the first to solicit responses from persons not involved in university-industry collaborative activity as well as from those who are. This research successfully captured three aspects of conflicts: conflict of interest, conflict of commitment and conflict over internal equity. The study found that conflict of interest turns on potential financial gain and revenue generating activities. Conflict of commitment is viewed in terms of responsibility and loyalty to the academic or industrial sector to which the individual belongs. Conflict over internal equity centers on traditional academic duties such as teaching and interaction with students. The primary benefits society will receive as a result of collaborative activity are new knowledge and know-how of new techniques and technologies. Regarding specific mechanisms preferred by survey respondents, collaborative universities and firms will rely heavily on conflict of interest policies guide appropriate activities. These should be specific enough to counsel an individual who has come to a decision point with regard to loyalties and at the same time be general enough to treat each collaborative endeavor on its unique merits. Regardless of the type of collaborative relationship in which academics become involved, the study found that decision makers should hold firm in their promotion of teaching and equitable treatment of students. In order to be true to their academic identity, university representatives should ensure the scale is tipped in favor of teaching, or delicately balanced so that teaching activities are equal to collaborative activities.
Degree ProgramHigher Education