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Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research: Report of a Workshop
making analysis (in which the decision-making processes of each organization is made explicit), and expectation mapping (in which the expected roles and contributions of each partner are analyzed).
Industry and Universities Often Have Different Time Horizons. Industry and universities have different time horizons for good reasons. Although some senior management officials in industry are concerned that universities are becoming too short term in pursuing specific projects and collaborations, industry is generally operating on a shorter time horizon than academia. In some cases discussed during the workshop, industry partners were seen as disruptive by universities when industry pulled out of projects on short notice or hired students in the middle of degree programs.
Possible Solutions. For broad collaboration (master agreements) and focused collaboration (clinical trials), misunderstandings of the preceding type appear to be uncommon. More commonly, problems arise with projects with less well-defined outcomes than clinical trials. Several participants noted that universities should avoid overselling in terms of potential accomplishments and timelines. Likewise, industry should understand that, in most sponsored research, the effective time unit is the time it takes to complete a Ph.D. dissertation, usually three years. Although some companies are exploring the possibility of sponsoring university research with a faster turnaround, it is unclear whether it can become a standard practice.
ISSUES OF INSTITUTIONAL INCENTIVES AND INTEGRATION OF RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL MISSIONS
Institutional Reward Structures May Act as Disincentives to Collaboration. In some cases, because key staff members of the industry partner may not be rewarded financially if the project succeeds, the staff members assign collaboration a low priority. Financial rewards resulting from collaboration are more likely for university faculty members. On the other hand, collaborative work can impede young faculty members from getting the intellectual recognition necessary to gain tenure. In one example discussed at the meeting, a young faculty member spent a great deal of time and effort on a collaborative project, probably undermining her chances for tenure.
Possible Solutions. Companies have assigned liaisons with project responsibility, resulting in management of collaborative work being included