From ‘Ivory Tower Traditionalists’ to ‘Entrepreneurial Scientists’? Academic Scientists in Fuzzy University-Industry Boundaries

38 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2011

See all articles by Alice Lam

Alice Lam

University of London - Royal Holloway College

Date Written: May 1, 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Academic scientists, academic capitalism, entrepreneurial university, knowledge commercialisation, boundary work, institutional theory, sociological ambivalence, university-industry collaboration

Suggested Citation

Lam, Alice, From ‘Ivory Tower Traditionalists’ to ‘Entrepreneurial Scientists’? Academic Scientists in Fuzzy University-Industry Boundaries (May 1, 2009). Royal Holloway, University of London, School of Management Working Paper No. 0906. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1800683 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1800683

Alice Lam (Contact Author)

University of London - Royal Holloway College ( email )

Senate House
Malet Street
London, TW20 0EX
United Kingdom

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