Academic Institutions as Change Agents for Territorial Development


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Researcher James Wilson's presentation at the Workshop "Entrepreneurial University, Engaged Industry & Active Government: Triple Helix Opportunities", held at the University of Surrey, 29-30 May, 2014

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  • As we only have half an hour, I would like to reflect on some of the critical challenges of Orkestra at this moment and about a proposal that we have in mind.

    Our unique value proposition, which differentiate Orkestra from an University Department or a consultancy focus on Competitiveness is that we try to be a bridge between the academic research and the problems of the competitiveness actors in the BC.

    We are a research institute, but we make research defining research questions and projects jointly with competitiveness actors, engaging with them in long term processes and trying to transform the system from the inside. We are an actor of change of the Basque competitiveness.

    For this, we combine activities of research, training and interaction.

    It is critical to maintain this uniqueness.
  • Academic Institutions as Change Agents for Territorial Development

    1. 1. Academic Institutions as Change Agents for Territorial Development Mari J. Aranguren* José M. Guibert** Jesús M. Valdaliso*** James R. Wilson* * Orkestra-Basque Institute of Competitiveness and Deusto Business School ** University of Deusto *** The University of the Basque Country Presented at the Workshop ‘Entrepreneutial University, Engaged Industry & Active Government: Triple Helix Opportunities’, University of Surrey, 29-30 May 2014
    2. 2. Motivation • Academic institutions are being asked to play more strategic roles in actively shaping socioeconomic development processes at regional level • This takes us beyond a focus on science & technology in knowledge transfer or the broad economic impact of universities • It highlights a new set of challenges that are particularly relevant for the ‘softer’ disciplines • We analyse these questions through a case study of ‘academic institutional entrepreneurship’: Orkestra- Basque Institute of Competitiveness What is the potential for academic institutions to become change agents for territorial development? And what challenges do they face in doing so?
    3. 3. Structure of the paper 1. Changing roles of universities and academics 2. Methodology 3. Territorial context: The Basque Country 4. The case of Orkestra 5. Conclusions and challenges for academic institutions and social scientists
    4. 4. • Globalisation and the rise of regional studies • Interest in the role of universities in territorial socioeconomic development processes has intensified • Central to concepts such as the triple helix, clusters & systems of innovation o Etzkowitz (1993); Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff (1997); Porter (1990); Freeman (1987); Lundvall (1992); Cooke et al. (1998) • The move ‘closer to society’ has taken various forms, predominantly within a market perspective o More effective transfer of knowledge to business sector o Attempts to quantify direct and indirect economic ‘impacts’ of universities Universities & socioeconomic development But there is also recognition of scope for a more developmental role in shaping territorial strategy
    5. 5. • Universities committed to regional economic development & actively shaping networks of knowledge & innovation (Uyarra, 2010) • Two key roles (Drabenstott, 2008) 1. Diagnostic: Academic analysis of the competitive position of regions and their advantages 2. Alignment: Conduct research focused on the needs and challenges of regional competitiveness • The current European regional policy focus on Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) identifies strategic roles for universities (Foray & Van Ark, 2008; Foray et al., 2012; Goddard et al. 2013) o Participate in entrepreneurial processes of discovery & RIS3 design o Provide external connections & access to foreign sources of knowledge o Match research capabilities with emerging regional priorities o Maintain a tension between research of international academic excellence and research oriented to specific regional needs A more strategic role for universities
    6. 6. Methodology • To study this developmental role in regional environments context is all important, which suggests the appropriateness of case studies • Sources for the case of Orkestra: o In depth semi-structured interviews with 18 individuals actively involved in the creation of Orkestra and its subsequent development (conducted by the external co-author) o A closed survey sent to 38 key actors in the Basque society (universities, technological centres, policy-makers, economic development agencies) o Other sources of information: Annual Reports, Minutes of the Board of Directors, research publications… • Combination of quantitative (scientific production and other ‘hard’ indicators of teaching and interacting activities) and qualitative information • Triangulation, contrast and discussion
    7. 7. • 2.2 million people • GDP per capita in top 5% of European regions • An old industrial region • 22% manufacturing share of GDP • Successful economic transformation over last thirty years, based on a strong regional innovation system (OECD, 2011) • 2.1% of GDP spent on R&D • High level of policy autonomy • Complex institutional structure Context: The Basque Country
    8. 8. • Teaching-focused & poorly situated in global rankings • Clear improvement in research inputs and outputs over last 10 years (patents, spin offs, scientific publications) • Third mission under-developed, but recent initiatives The Basque Universities University of the Basque Country •Public •Third mission advanced by recent Euskampus project Deusto University •Private (Jesuit) •Third mission advanced by 2004 establishment of Deusto Foundation Mondragon University •Private (Co-op) •Third mission integrated in cooperative origins
    9. 9. • New research centre, created from scratch in 2006 within an old university, with a funding system and governance structure different from that of traditional academic institutions in the Basque/Spanish system o Mix of public-private-university funding on a long-term basis o Managed like a firm (board of directors, general manager, advisory board) • Inception influenced by personal convictions of key players & by Porter’s work on the role of universities/ research centres in promoting regional competitiveness o Example of institutional entrepreneurship (Sotarauta, 2011, Karlsen et al, 2012) Case: Orkestra - Basque Institute of Competitiveness ORIGINAL MISSION To support through research, teaching, prospection, technical assistance, evaluation, discussion and participation in international networks of excellence, the activity of the public administration, socio-economic agents and all the universities of the Basque Country in fields related to competitiveness
    10. 10. Direction & Support Territory, innovation and clusters Entrepre - neurship Strategy Energy • Public & private stakeholder funding with university backing, for first four years (around €2m per year) • From 2010 onwards, competitive funding more and more important (today circa 50%) • 15-26 researchers & 10-12 supporting staff Orkestra – Structure & Funding
    11. 11. Frontier of Knowledge on Regional Competitiveness Impact on the actual competitiveness of the Basque Country and contributions to the frontier of knowledge on regional competitiveness Actual competitiveness state of the Basque Country Researc h Teachi ng Inter actio n 1. Equilibrium basic funded and competitive projects 2. Equilibrium international and local projects 3. Positive tension between problem-focused processes & academic writing Orkestra – Model guiding activities
    12. 12. • An increasingly international research but oriented to the needs of the region • Activities include a bi- annual assessment of the competitive position of the Basque Country • A ratio of publications per researcher that notably outscores that of Deusto University, and that of the University of the Basque Country in social sciences, arts and humanities Orkestra – Academic research
    13. 13. • Mainly post- graduate: executive courses (e.g. MOC), masters and doctoral programs • Non-university training to stakeholders Orkestra – Teaching
    14. 14. • Interaction with the main socioeconomic agents of the region • Proactive role in the regional knowledge and policy network • An extremely time-consuming and demanding activity (it pays off in a medium- long term) Orkestra – Interaction
    15. 15. 1. It has provided a ‘common language’ for competitiveness and has fostered a shared vision of the competitive challenges of the country among the different agents – a ‘bridge builder’ 2. It has offered academic analysis of the competitive position of the Basque country and its main challenges 3. It has had important input in the development and evaluation of the cluster policy and other policy plans of the Basque government, and has been able to become a key advisory institution for different levels of government without losing its independence 4. It has been able to carry out academic research of increasing international quality and relevance, which has also served to diffuse the Basque experience 5. Spillovers between research, teaching and interacting have lead to the development of new roles for academics (as social researchers) and new methodologies (action research) Orkestra’s role in regional change
    16. 16. • Orkestra appears to be fulfilling the roles of diagnostic & research alignment in a proactive way that is engaged with the region’s needs • In the context of RIS3, for example, it is responding to Goddard et al.’s roles • As a change agent in the field of regional competitiveness meeting three challenges have and continue to be critical: 1. How to guarantee continuity (stable funding) 2. How to manage the creative tensions that emerge: o Between the different needs of stakeholders: o Between research & interaction (a time-consuming activity) o Between regional needs & participation in global networks 3. How to develop capabilities of ‘social researchers’, able to facilitate change processes & reflect on them rigorously Conclusions … and challenges
    17. 17. Thanks, gracias, eskerrik asko! • With particular acknowledgements to: o Patricia Canto (Orkestra) for her help in quantitative assessment of Orkestra between 2006 and 2012 o MINECO (Grant HAR2012-30948) and the Basque Government (Grant IT807-13) for financial support Email: Slideshare: jamierwilson @jamierwilson