Role Strain in University Research Centers


Over the past three decades, research in the sciences and engineering has become increasingly multidisciplinary, requiring intellectually diverse groups to answer complex research questions. As a result, research collaborations that span organizations and institutions have become a common means through which policymakers and public officials seek to accomplish goals related to generating and deploying scientific and technical knowledge. Indeed, this period in U.S. science and technology policy could be credibly deemed the “era of interinstitutional research collaboration,” notably in light of the emergence of university research centers—university-based research organizations focusing on research topics rather than disciplines that implement strong interinstitutional and cross-sector ties, often funded by federal monies and supporting scientists from industry as well as from other universities (Bozeman & Boardman, 2003).1 The titles of recent studies of academic science suggest the dynamic and disruptive nature of universities’ changes in institutional design. Etzkowitz, Webster, Gebhardt, and Cantisano Terra (2000) examine the “evolution of the ivory tower to entrepreneurial paradigm”; Slaughter, Campbell, Folleman, and Morgan speak of “trafficking” in graduate students and examine “graduate students as tokens of exchange between Role Strain in University Research Centers academe and industry” (2002, p. 294); Owen-Smith (2003) provides what is perhaps the most useful tag, noting the movement of universities and industry “from separate systems to hybrid order,” with the distribution of knowledge produced by academic science no longer conforming to public goods norms and expectations.

Full Paper

Craig Boardman and B. Bozeman (2007) “Role Strain in University Research Centers,” Journal of Higher Education, 78, 3.