Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
Bridging town and gown
Bridging town and gown
Bridging town and gown
Bridging town and gown
Bridging town and gown
Bridging town and gown
Bridging town and gown
Bridging town and gown
Bridging town and gown
Bridging town and gown
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

×
Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

Bridging town and gown

1,407

Published on

A short white paper on bridging "town" and "gown" - how communities can better engage with institutions (in this case, universities)> Would LOVE comments, links to your own case studies, etc.

A short white paper on bridging "town" and "gown" - how communities can better engage with institutions (in this case, universities)> Would LOVE comments, links to your own case studies, etc.

Published in: Business, Technology
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
1,407
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
24
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. Bridging Town and Gown: Best Practice?Dating back to the Middle Ages, universities and cities have co-existed awkwardly.Town-gown relations have too often been strained, sometimes by miscommunication buteven more often by conflicting agendas. A city that wants to build useful, productivebridges to its academic community needs to understand how those agendas differ andhow they can be nudged into better alignment. The same is true for universities who wishto truly engage with their community and to do so productively and honorably. Top-downsupport is critical; the “bully pulpit” always is. However, virtually all successfulpartnerings came bottom-up from empassioned faculty, city employees, even students!(Often making a „pain‟ of themselves to their home institution.) On the other hand, theone single overwhelming predictor of failure was an insistence on “amateur night.”To paraphrase an old joke, town and gown are divided by a seemingly common agenda.Cities want to perceive universities as a resource; universities perceive their host cities asa support system for them. Yet, the potential to be realized from genuine collaboration isenormous – everything from enhanced workforce development to job creation to terrificstudent learning to… favorable attention from state legislatures. In other states we areseeing these results and more. And the cost can be low for both sides – remarkably low.So Why Collaborate? What are the Payoffs from True Collaboration?Research and experience both show three potentially huge payoffs for both „town‟ and„gown‟ – each is a key component in developing a sustainable, health community: * Creating Innovation * Creating Jobs * Creating CommunityThe “Ivory Tower” Is RealIt‟s hard for universities to be both an elite intellectual institution and be a genuinepartner to their communities. For example, cities tend to be driven by on-the-groundpracticalities and by various political pressures. Meanwhile, universities are driven by amission that tends to favor theory (and are buffeted by their own political crosscurrents).Yet, if one side does not honor, even cherish what the other is seeking, it becomesdifficult to work together.However, it is far from impossible. While we see many pathologies, we also see manygreat partnerships forged on a “bottom-up” basis by people who really bring world-classexpertise. Build on those first.Essentially, both sides must have an obsession with finding out what each other wants(not telling them what they should “need”). There must be an equal obsession with notletting politics prevent either from delivering genuine value. Value propositions are fromthe customers‟ perspective, not the sellers‟. Too often, cities fail the process by not seeingthe opportunities of genuine collaboration. Too often, universities fail the process bysending „amateurs‟ – enthusiastic as they might be – instead of sending people withactual training and experience. Please, please use the people who‟ve paid their dues.Confidential Discussion Draft – Not for Quotation or Attribution without Author’s Consent 1
  • 2. The Good News“College towns” are too often dominated so much by the school that everyone loses sightof the value provided by true partnering; Boise (and Idaho) has avoided that imbalance.We have leadership at both BSU and the City of Boise that sees community economicdevelopment as not just the most productive arena for true partnering, rather it is anecessary area of collaboration. Most important, BSU has in its employ severalindividuals who have the training, experience and passion to deliver value in communitydevelopment (e.g., several BSU-affiliated personnel are already active in statewideeconomic development and stand ready to expanding engagement with communities.)Some Key Principles (1) Proactive Delivery of Genuine Value: Deliver proven value… only then getpaid: From either side, there must be an urgent need to emphasize results first. The citymay want productive results (such as an improved program or fully-functioning software)while the university may focus instead on opportunities for faculty research publicationor simply money. This disconnect can lead to distrust and hostility, but it also offersterrific opportunities for productive exchange. In particular, there is great potential forsupporting economic development. However, this will require both sides – both of which tend to be highlybureaucratic – to move visibly and willfully from what we call “product orientation” to a“market orientation”. That is, our strategy and tactics have to focus on what deliversgenuine value to the other partner – in their eyes, not ours. While universities and theirfaculty are notorious for the “trust me, I have a Ph.D.” mentality, cities can also insist thatthey know what is best for universities in their midst. (2) Understand What the Partner Truly Wants: Leadership is important, especiallyto make sure that the best people are encouraged and the amateurs are discouraged. Forexample, this means finding ways to prevent your best people from being too overloaded.Leaders bring the power of the bully pulpit that is so valuable in managing change. Forexample, leaders can help both the city and the university to celebrate the “small wins”that keep us moving forward. The people who are already actively involved know whatthe real wants are for their partners – so use them. (3) Market (Customer)-Driven: Again, both partners (and representatives) mustkeep in mind that the value proposition must be from the customer‟s perspective, nottheir own. A recent study found the success of interdisciplinary academic centers hingedsimply on whether this was someone‟s clever “wouldn‟t it be cool” idea or somethingexternal stakeholders were begging for (the latter is imperative). Test: Did the partnering arise from: (a) “We have this cool idea” or (b) someoneasking “How can we help?” Universities have difficulty believing that (b) is correct. (4) Focus on Distinctive Competence, not Core Competence: One way to addressthis is also a sound principle of strategic management, that of “distinctive competence.”Focusing on distinctive competence requires asking the question: Where are you actuallycreating value (from the partner‟s perspective)? You want to assign those people andConfidential Discussion Draft – Not for Quotation or Attribution without Author’s Consent 2
  • 3. resources wherever they can do the most for the partner. That‟s a challenge because whatyou do best (or what you most want to do) may not actually offer much benefit to thecustomer-partner, but the bottom line is that “best” must be defined by the partner.(Again, those who‟ve already been engaged with the community in positive, productiveways are almost always delivering on distinctive competence.) Example: I want to be the expert on Chaucer but even though I lack the expertise,if I have the political „juice‟ I can claim that „turf‟ even when the school has genuineexperts on Chaucer. What a disservice to the community. What university would reallywant to send a „wannabe‟ as its representative? Example: A recent study assessed the key differences between successful andunsuccessful joint centers at universities and found one specific difference. A center foreconomic psychology (bringing together economists and psychologists) will succeed ifthere is strong, pre-existing demand for it in the community broadly defined (demandfrom the academic community is rarely sufficient). If such a center arose from a“wouldn‟t it be cool if we…” motivation, the odds of success are slim. Again, marketorientation utterly trumps product orientation (an attitude that is very difficult foruniversities to embrace at times, thus cities need to help by insisting on that marketorientation – and modeling it themselves. This can become a huge problem if town-gown collaboration becomes highlydesirable politically. Much as the „wrong‟ people will seek to get involved if it looks likea money-maker, we must be extra careful to get only the „right‟ people involved if there‟spolitical capital to be gained. (5) Cherish Our Differences: While there‟s an obvious trap in thinking that bothtown and gown are on the same page. For example, “college towns” are too oftendominated so much by the school that everyone loses sight of the value provided by truepartnering. However, even in towns with no such domination (e.g., Boise) there is nosubstitute for healthy communication about what we each really want. (6) Beware “Charisma”: Both partners are vulnerable to glib presentations. Berelentless is asking about formal training and hands-on experience. Also, if a universitysends someone who is a political favorite, that is always a major red flag. As one wagput it, “better a curmudgeon than a charmer.” (7) Avoid “Amateur Night” at All Costs: Top management must demand that theright people are in the right spots, starting with administrators – as difficult as it is to doin a bureaucracy, politics have to be kept out of the picture. Build on your existingsuccesses, not on “wannabes.” Keep asking what “dues” have they paid! The ‘Bolivian Architecture’ Problem: For example, in the academic world,anyone can claim they are an expert on pretty much any topic. If I assert myself to be anexpert on Bolivian architecture, how dare you constrain my academic freedom bypointing out that I have neither skills nor experience! (8) “Dance With The One Who Brung Ya”: Any city and university havepartnerings already underway. Identify partnerings that arose from “How can we help?”questions. That means they‟ve identified a distinctive competence. Why? That means thatboth sides have figured out what their partner genuinely wants. Build on those first.Confidential Discussion Draft – Not for Quotation or Attribution without Author’s Consent 3
  • 4. So How Can Cities Find the Right People for Partnering? The „Con‟ Game? If this phenomenon can arise in esoteric fields like Chaucer, can you imagine theproblems in areas where everyone seems to have an opinion? In my own field ofentrepreneurship studies, I can attest that it drives entrepreneurs nuts to hear academicsclaiming expertise, despite having neither actual entrepreneurial experience norprofessional academic training. Fortunately, experts like the Kauffman Foundation have identified three criticalsuccess factors in this arena. From the city‟s perspective, they must ask this of anyonewho offers to help (and definitely ask of anyone seeking resources from the city): 1) Content knowledge: Can they demonstrate expertise in the limited domain of the project? If a city seeks IT help, shouldn‟t the help come from truly qualified providers? This is necessary but hardly sufficient for a successful partnering. 2) Context: In the case of economic development, does the potential advisor truly understand the „big picture‟ and what the dominant best practices are? Cities (and universities) need to work with people who have more than narrow expertise. Again, „amateur night‟ remains the bane of many attempted partnerships. These partnerships are not a vehicle for on-the-job training of an expert. Especially in economic development. 3) Conscience: Truly critical. The city must ensure that this is not some vehicle to another end, rather the project is intrinsically important to the key people involved. The university‟s first goal – by far- has to be delivering genuine value.The U.S. Economic Development Administration commissioned studies to identify thebest practices in university-community partnering for community economic development.As you will see, we are uniquely positioned to pursue all of these and each best practicefurther suggests both near-term “slam dunk” (easy/cheap) options and also verypromising longer-term “big, hairy audacious opportunities (BHAO).” Community Economic Development: The EDA‟s Six Best Practices a) Economic Development as Core Mission b) You Win with People c) Partner with the Business Community d) Encourage Technology Transfer e) Create a Truly Entrepreneurial Ecosystem f) Pay Attention to the State/Regional ContextThe linchpin? Entrepreneurial (“21st-century”) economic development 1) Economic Development as Core Mission: Universities need to make it clear that economic development is part of their core mission. Cities need to make sure that the university walks the walk.Confidential Discussion Draft – Not for Quotation or Attribution without Author’s Consent 4
  • 5. What Can Go Wrong? Universities don‟t listen and/or cities don‟t articulate; Universities only pay lip service to ED; universities choose to define ED in selfish terms; “Amateur Night” – do not hire people who lack training and experience in ED (this is NOT a time for on-the-job training, no matter how motivated the faculty/staff people might be.) This can be disastrous where administrators themselves are not experts and perhaps be swayed by persuasiveness, not actual merit. What Can Go Right? Universities need to send visible signals that they take their ED commitments seriously; Clarity and frequency of communication are strong; the right people are deployed. Deploy students and take advantage of their skills and their passion! How Cities Can Help the University: City provides opportunities for teaching and research; unique opportunities for student learning; share city expertise with university researchers and educators How Universities Can Help the City: Intellectual resources deployed responsibly; use of student projects (beyond mere „service learning‟ to actual productive projects); Student-centric partnerships between departments and city departments. BHAO: Create a formal mechanism to jointly pursue ED projects and strategies – a truly joint “town-gown” center (that‟s at arm‟s length from both). The nascent TechConnect system could be exploited for this. Slam Dunk Action Steps: Take advantage of existing efforts and existing entities (e.g., TechConnect, TEAMS); for little money, create a dedicated ED project class partnered by the city, university and the Idaho ED Association (Jeff Jones has already volunteered to co-teach such a class with Dr. Krueger). 2) You Win with People: Universities need to grow, retain and attract the absolute best and brightest people it can. Cities obviously share this important objective. What Can Go Wrong? Universities fail to value the „best and brightest,‟ failing to retain their best people; especially bad if they fail to put in charge those people who offer significant value to the community; universities fail to get its people (from students to staff to faculty to administrators) engaged in true partnerships with the community. Cities can fail to demand that the university‟s send their „best and brightest‟; likewise, cities may not send their own „best & brightest‟. What Can Go Right? The potential synergies of having top experts from both town and gown can provide growth opportunities for the city that could not be matched remotely by either acting alone. Universities are a major source of diversity, broadly defined: Diversity in ethnicity, to be sure but also diversity of ideas. As such, universities can increase diversity across the community. (In the case of Boise, where ethnic diversity seems minimal, this entails retaining minority students in the community.) How Cities Can Help the University: Cities can make a visible, intentional effort to retain talented individuals, whether talented technologists, artists, or diverse populations. (This cannot devolve into a “PC”-driven strategy of “counting coups,” rather we need to cultivate a broad sense of welcome andConfidential Discussion Draft – Not for Quotation or Attribution without Author’s Consent 5
  • 6. community.) Visible support from a city department for faculty and staff who provide genuine value can encourage the university to retain and reward them. (On the other hand, the city should not be shy about discouraging „amateurs‟ and other non-helpers.) How Universities Can Help the City: Universities can engage the community more enthusiastically – as a true partner (a recurring theme). As part of that, universities can do more to engage the public in sharing the different kinds of knowledge resident at the school (e.g., public forums that showcase the top scientists and other researchers.) In particular, the technological contributions are critical. Workforce development is an area where universities can add enormous value but “vocation” must not be a dirty word. Yes, the two-year schools are a great asset here but four-year schools need to be onboard. Similarly, we also must not lose sight of citizen development. Too often, universities only offer “ideological correctness.” BHAO: Expand existing center(s) for workforce development to integrate state, city and university/college efforts. Slam Dunk Action Steps: Monthly “Meet the Scientist” forums; coordinate with the city re workforce needs; identify ways to retain the university‟s graduates. 3) Partner with the Business Community: The business community is a critical stakeholder that universities do not always understand (and it typically has multiple communities – the entrepreneurial community often is very different than the „old guard‟). The city can help a university identify who the most appropriate „players‟ are. The university has to recognize that it isn‟t „selling out‟ to work closely with them. What Can Go Wrong? From the city‟s perspective, it‟s critical that they help universities to maintain that customer focus (if not obsession); modeling that behavior visibly can be effective. Modeling the opposite behavior can destroy even the best-laid plans. The „bully pulpit‟ always seems to make a difference. Universities still have some difficulty with the notion that the business community may know best and even more difficulty with the notion that they have to prove themselves. “Dues-paying” must be demanded. What Can Go Right? Again, if universities (and cities) maintain a very strong customer focus (and embrace it as an integral part of their culture) we can readily see many opportunities for mutual benefit: Better-trained students who stick around to be better-trained employees (and entrepreneurs). How Cities Can Help the University: City can broker contacts between university and business. City provides opportunities for teaching and research; unique opportunities for student learning; share city expertise with university researchers and educators. Provide public forums where town and gown can share ideas. How Universities Can Help the City: Universities that embrace their central role in the economic ecosystem (see below). BHAO: Statewide center for entrepreneurial development with state, INEEL, city, ED entities, ISBDC and all the universities & colleges as partners. As aConfidential Discussion Draft – Not for Quotation or Attribution without Author’s Consent 6
  • 7. partnership, it needs engagement by as many stakeholders as possible but autonomy from them as well. Slam Dunk Action Steps: Support current existing efforts to create a multi- disciplinary, multi-university course to support job-creating growth entrepreneurship. 4) Encourage Technology Transfer: N.B.: “Technology” is not just science and engineering, university produces useful knowledge of all kinds. For example, however, let us focus here on novel scientific technology. The university needs to not undervalue its technologies nor over-value them. What Can Go Wrong? Universities can fail to generate intellectual property at all. They can fail to generate technology that offers any value to its consumers or, worse, has negative externalities. Find ways to be a “pain” and “rock the boat.” One common roadblock is political correctness that might manifest itself in excessive concerns over conflicts of interest in scientific research. Cities can resist university efforts to create new knowledge or attempt to punish a university for “rocking the boat”. What Can Go Right? Both town and gown can serve to “rock the boat” for each other, continually challenging the other to push the envelope. A climate or culture that is overtly and proactively friendly to innovative ideas offers value far beyond economic returns. At the same time, though, embracing the new need not require repudiating the past. Nonetheless, it is the rare university that can ignore its responsibility to generate innovative knowledge. How Cities Can Help the University: Cities can use the bully pulpit to support the creation of new knowledge and new technologies. Sending clear, unambiguous signals that, say, we want to see a lot more patents and licensable technologies would encourage universities to increase support of tech transfer. It also supports a climate or culture that cherishes innovation. Meanwhile, cities have a natural advantage in helping assure that embracing the new can peacefully coexist with honoring past traditions. How Universities Can Help the City: Universities‟ core mission is to generate and disseminate knowledge. As such, they should be a relentless engine for innovation and innovative knowledge on all fronts. However, universities should also have the cross-disciplinary expertise to make sure even rapid, discontinuous change avoids unnecessary disruption of the social fabric. For example, we often see schools that are major technology sources also offer a multi-disciplinary program in technology studies. BHAO: Support the State‟s formal Science & Technology Plan by expanding tech transfer and tech commercialization; BSU & the City could create a multidisciplinary “Technology Studies” program that would take advantage of existing and future partnerships, especially the national lab (again, as long as it‟s driven by competence, not politics). Slam Dunk Action Steps: Endorse the existing TechConnect partnership as the coordinating entity for technology development statewide; identify ways toConfidential Discussion Draft – Not for Quotation or Attribution without Author’s Consent 7
  • 8. support the State‟s new action plan (as developed by INEEL and TechConnect). For both city and university, this is both free and powerful! 5) Create a Truly Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: In every booming local economy, we see a broad, rich interconnection of stakeholders working together within a complex, dynamic economic ecosystem. The key to a successful ecosystem is to identify each stakeholder‟s distinctive competence. That is, where does an institution (or individual) provide the most value. Distinctive competence is not what one does best (and is not what one wants to do) rather it is what one does that creates the most value for the other stakeholders. Consider the most successful such ecosystems (e.g., San Diego‟s UCSD-Connect, Pennsylvania‟s Ben Franklin program, Ohio‟s Edison Partnership); in each case, universities have found multiple roles in encouraging novel economic activity (and job creation). Again, in each case, universities have stifled petty internal politics to deploy their best and brightest, not political favorites. What Can Go Wrong? Turf wars have often been an issue, both on the local level and on the regional or state level. It can be challenging to get stakeholders to focus on where they add the most value (and cede turf where they do not). It seems almost an inevitable consequence of bureaucracy that holding or gaining turf becomes far more important than actually engaging in activities that benefit the public. What Can Go Right? However, successful „ecosystems‟ find ways to map entrepreneurial needs onto the actual skill sets of the key stakeholders. Redundancy turns out to be relatively benign (e.g., a Women‟s Business Center may offer services identical to an SBDC or an SBA office but prospective female entrepreneurs might find it less daunting.) Nonetheless, it is imperative that key services be delivered by those who really know what they are doing – and not by those who lack training and experience. How Cities Can Help the University: Cities can demand that universities involve only faculty who actually have domain-specific expertise and domain- specific experience. A city must carefully vet all prospective faculty partners, insisting on genuine, proven expertise and experience. At the same time, cities need to engage the right people on their end. Even the best faculty partners are at a severe disadvantage if working with city personnel who lack the knowledge and/or authority to implement projects. How Universities Can Help the City: Universities can find ways, as difficult as it might be, to ensure that their “best and brightest” are working with the city, not political favorites or those who seek to be involved in order to garner money and other resources. Getting paid is certainly ok, but universities need to send those who (a) have professional academic credentials and (b) tangible professional experience and (c) committed passion to partners. Again, universities need to deliver value first before seeking recompense. BHAO: Make sure that any major center, whether entrepreneurship-themed, technology-themed or rural-themed, be truly statewide in its ability to help (even if located in Boise). Identify ways to get center‟s services decentralizedConfidential Discussion Draft – Not for Quotation or Attribution without Author’s Consent 8
  • 9. even to small rural communities; identify ways to enhance formal and informal communications across the state; extend the TEAMS project-based model to an externship model where students work in rural areas to support ED. Slam Dunk Action Steps: Endorse the existing TechConnect partnership as the coordinating entity for entrepreneurial development statewide. 6) Pay Attention to the State/Regional Context: Little of the foregoing occurs in a vacuum. Rather, both the city and the university are irretrievably embedded in the broader context of their region and state. Universities that productively engage local communities as true partners will have allies before the state legislature; universities that proceed in “business as usual” will lose that competitive edge. What Can Go Wrong? Obviously, if either party fails to understand the broader context in which development flourishes (or languishes), fruitful local efforts can become problematic as our local efforts fail to connect with local efforts elsewhere and with regional interdependencies. What Can Go Right? However, if efforts can take advantage of regional interdependencies, then local successes can spill over to other communities in the region and everybody wins! How Cities Can Help the University: The leadership of most cities are all too aware of these interdependencies – for example, the economic and social health of Caldwell and Nampa are hardly independent of the health of Boise. If city leaders make it clear that “we‟re all in this together” then partnerships can have payoffs much broader than just a local effect. It also increases the odds that any beneficial changes will be sustainable. Cities can also demand that job creation and tech transfer be shared across regions (e.g., not just Boise but across the Treasure Valley and, indeed, across the state.) How Universities Can Help the City: Similarly, universities have the ability to assist cities in seeing the larger picture and using their own broader reach to understand state/regional concerns that influence the city‟s concerns. Universities are uniquely positioned to analyze these regional concerns on an ongoing basis. BHAO: Develop economic development as a true competency for the university and make the city a “mecca” for ED experts; invite/recruit the leading ED institutions to locate here. (Talk about a new wrinkle on recruitment!) Slam Dunk Action Steps: Hold a regional conference on entrepreneurial economic development under auspices of TechConnect, INEEL & TEAMS. Joint hosting by the city & university would be a big splash.Confidential Discussion Draft – Not for Quotation or Attribution without Author’s Consent 9
  • 10. Questions for the Community to Ask the University: 1) Can you prove you are serious? Can you demonstrate a credible long-term commitment? Not a committee or task force but sustained actual behavior? 2) Have the people deployed truly “paid their dues”?: On specific projects, are you giving us the best possible person(s)? (Not who wants to do it, not a political favorite, but the person(s) with the best professional credentials and the most genuine hands-on experience…) 3) Are you willing to “bet the come”? Will you deliver results before you ask for anything, especially money? Do you want the city to help acquire resources before you actually do anything? As with #2, will those people who actually have the skills and experience be the leaders – will those people who are actually delivering value in advance – be the ones “driving the bus?” 4) Are you willing to ignore, even quash, those who seek to undermine the partnership (e.g., for ideological reasons or for their own selfish purposes)? 5) Is this truly customer-driven? Entrepreneurs pay themselves last and so should your university partners. Ask the people seeking to engage the community: What are you sacrificing? What are you gaining? Most important: If there are people better qualified than you, will you yield complete creative control -and take orders from the experts?Questions that the University Should Ask the Community: 1) Can you show us that your commitment will last beyond the next election? 2) Can you promise that good ideas won‟t get bogged down in bureaucratic nonsense? (Can you demonstrate this?) 3) Will you communicate clearly and frequently what the city really needs and wants? (Will you share minority/dissenting viewpoints?) 4) Will you communicate clearly and frequently with faculty and students who are working on projects for/with the city? 5) Can you provide access to data, etc. for research? Will you commit to allowing (even helping) city personnel to be co-investigators in action research and participatory action research projects? 6) “Creative financing”? Are you willing to work to find ways to provide the university‟s „best and brightest‟ with resources to compensate for their increased workloads? (Would you permit city employees to teach or co-teach classes during working hours?)Confidential Discussion Draft – Not for Quotation or Attribution without Author’s Consent 10

×