University -industry research partnerships: Motivations for collaboration

Cherie A Scricca, University of Pennsylvania


The very suggestion of university-industry research collaborations sparks debate among academics and the public. To their critics, these collaborations signal the corporate takeover of the university and a slippery slope for the university, even as they acknowledge the opportunities for discovery and benefit to both institutions and to society. Universities and business have been engaged in business and research collaborations for over 100 years and continue to pursue one another because both benefit from them. And, while most criticisms focus on the consequences arising from these relationships, little attention has been paid to the motivations of universities and business in participating in these relationships, which is the focus of this study. A case study involving 26 research faculty members from the University of Southern California and four individuals from Fortune 500 companies was conducted at the University of Southern California in 2005. The purpose of this study was the identification of motives, benefits and challenges involved in v universities participating in research collaborations with business. Once completed, 42 motivations, 21 benefits, and 23 challenges were identified with these partnerships. The 42 motivations identified by study participants included the motivations identified by corporate executives in a presentation in 2003 by F.M. Ross Armbrecht, the president of the Industrial Research Institute (IRI). These findings help to clarify that both universities and industry are knowledgeable of the reasons that each pursues research relationships. Despite the differences between universities and business, findings suggest they both seek these relationships because both require the resources of their counterpart in order to conduct their work, both share a desire to expand their organizational capabilities, both possess the drive to fulfill their organization's mission and purpose, and because both are able to obtain competitive advantages that help to insure their institution's growth and survival as a result of these collaborations. Other findings of the study were the benefits and challenges of these collaborations. Findings suggest that partnership outcomes could be positively influenced if participant attitudes and project procedures were modified to take into account the fluid nature of the research process and the changing needs of the overall relationship.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Scricca, Cherie A, "University -industry research partnerships: Motivations for collaboration" (2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3210001.