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About this book

This book describes patterns of behavior, which collectively allow universities to exchange knowledge more effectively with industry, accelerate innovation and eventually contribute to economic growth and development. These are based on the effective practices of MIT and other universities the authors have benchmarked, building on the practices that MIT has exported in its international institution building projects conducted since 2000. The authors provide guidance that is globally applicable, but must be locally adapted. The approach is first to describe the context in which universities act as engines of economic development, and then present a set of effective practices in four domains: education, research, innovation, and supporting practices. Each of these domains has six to nine practices, and each practice is presented in a similar template, with an abstract, a rationale and description, and one or two mini-case studies. Each domain is summarized by an integrative case study.

Focuses on a globally adaptable set of effective practices, complemented by case studies, that can enhance universities’ contribution to economic development, based on an integrated view of education, research and innovation;Presents effective practices and broader insights that come from real global experience, spelled out in templates and explained by cases;Includes tangible resources for university leaders, policy makers and funders on how to proceed.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. The Impact of Universities on Economic Development

What is the impact of universities on sustainable economic development? How can it be improved?
University stakeholders understand the sizable contributions to societal and economic development made by universities, and they expect more.
Knowledge exchange with partners is the central feature of this expanded engagement. It takes place through the bi-directional movement of people, capabilities, and ideas across the porous boundary between partners and the university. The primary partners are industry, enterprise, and government organizations.
We propose a systematic approach to strengthen knowledge exchange. Our approach is pragmatic. It enlarges the role of the university’s core academic activities and their outcomes: education which prepares talented graduates; research which yields discoveries; and catalyzing innovation which produces creations.
To help a university implement this approach, we identify patterns of behavior we call practices. We describe eleven academic practices, each with a rationale and key actions.
Finally, we define a framework for an adaptable university, with supporting practices and a guide for change.
We acknowledge that here are many important contributions to society by participants at universities. Our focus is on the economic contribution by university programs in science, engineering, and entrepreneurship.
Edward Crawley, John Hegarty, Kristina Edström, Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez

Chapter 2. A Systematic Approach to Knowledge Exchange

How important is knowledge exchange to economic development? How can it be improved?
Knowledge exchange is key to the economic contributions of the university. It links the university’s activities with partners in innovation and entrepreneurship. The partners develop new goods, services, and systems and create economic impact.
We propose a systematic approach to knowledge exchange that incorporates features of effective human dialog. The approach includes a discussion of partner needs, a sensitivity to those needs in the conduct of university efforts, and a proactive process to exchange outcomes.
The systematic approach is applied to 11 effective academic practices, in education, research, and catalyzing innovation. The practices are described, and the outcomes used in knowledge exchanged are identified.
Education encompasses four practices that prepare talented graduates with deep working knowledge of fundamentals and as agents of innovation.
Research includes four practices that enable researchers to make discoveries at the frontier of knowledge, with potential for impacting innovation.
Catalyzing innovation adds three more practices with innovation creations as outcomes.
Implementing these practices requires a quickening in the pace of change. The required change need not be disruptive and can build on the historic adaptability and resilience of the university.
Edward Crawley, John Hegarty, Kristina Edström, Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez

Chapter 3. Education and Knowledge Exchange

How does education prepare talented graduates to be stronger contributors to knowledge exchange and innovation?
Education develops the potential of the students to lead fulfilling, productive lives. As they leave the university, they become talented graduates, able to contribute to knowledge exchange, innovation, and more broadly to society.
The outcomes of their education that they carry into the next phase of their lives include deep working understanding of established fundamentals and emerging knowledge, essential life and professional skills, approaches and judgment, as well as know-how in research and innovation.
Knowledge is exchanged when students work as interns, and when they leave the university for employment or to start new ventures.
We have identified four educational practices that prepare students to be talented graduates:
  • Implementing an integrated curriculum, an educational plan for preparing students in disciplinary fundamentals, and with life and professional skills.
  • Engaging students in active, experiential and digital learning, for deeper conceptual understanding, self-efficacy, and self-learning.
  • Promptly introducing emerging and cross-disciplinary thought from research into the curriculum as new disciplines or interdisciplinary programs.
  • Offering courses within the curriculum in leadership, management, and entrepreneurship to better prepare students for innovation.
Edward Crawley, John Hegarty, Kristina Edström, Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez

Chapter 4. Research and Knowledge Exchange

How do research discoveries contribute more strongly to knowledge exchange and potentially innovation?
Researchers make discoveries at the frontiers of knowledge—often revealing phenomena or truths that were previously unknown or unexplained.
Discoveries that can be exchanged include new knowledge, facts, theories, analyses, and predictions, in single disciplines or across disciplines.
Knowledge is shared with research peers and more broadly. It is exchanged through discussions, publications, joint projects, and personnel exchanges. Graduates take new knowledge into their future work.
The potential for discoveries to become more impactful and lead to innovation depends on the choice of the research topic, how the research is conducted, what partners are involved, and how results are exchanged.
We have identified four research practices that increase the potential for impact of research discoveries on knowledge exchange and potentially on innovation:
  • Pursuing fundamental discoveries along a spectrum from curiosity-driven to use-inspired that impact both scholarship and society.
  • Collaborating within and across disciplines in search for new high-impact cross-disciplinary discoveries and fields of thought.
  • Empowering large-scale Centres of Research, Education, and Innovation to find directly implementable solutions to the pressing issues of society.
  • Energizing research by engaging undergraduate and postgraduate students, preparing them as agents of knowledge exchange.
Edward Crawley, John Hegarty, Kristina Edström, Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez

Chapter 5. Catalyzing Innovation and Knowledge Exchange

How do university innovation creations contribute more strongly to knowledge exchange and innovation by partners?
Actual innovation—the development and delivery of new goods, services, and systems—is primarily done by partners in industry, enterprise, and government.
The university contributes by catalyzing innovation and producing creations—synthesized objects, processes, and systems that did not exist prior to their development at the university, and that have potential for societal impact.
Creation outcomes include technologies, inventions and other intellectual property, artifacts, methods and concepts, tangible research property, know-how, and business ideas.
Knowledge can be exchanged by publications, discussions, joint projects, and personnel exchange, and also by intellectual property and tangible research property agreements, exchange of tangible artifacts, and involvement in start-ups and consulting. Graduates are a primary pathway for exchanging knowledge of creations.
We have identified three practices for catalyzing innovation, increasing the impact of creations on knowledge exchange and partner innovation:
  • Maturing the technical readiness of discoveries and creations within the university and assessing their business readiness.
  • Facilitating dialog and formal agreements with partners to promote the adoption of discoveries and creations.
  • Engaging in the actual entrepreneurship process within the university to create new ventures and better prepare entrepreneurs.
Edward Crawley, John Hegarty, Kristina Edström, Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez

Chapter 6. Integrated Knowledge Exchange

How do the academic practices integrate to impact knowledge exchange and innovation?
The academic practices of a university occur largely in the three domains of education, research, and catalyzing innovation. It is, however, the interplay of the practices, the overlap of the domains, and the convergence of disciplines that create many of the unique outcomes important for knowledge exchange with partners.
Such integration occurs if the internal boundaries of the university are low and permeable, and goals are shared.
It is the cross-disciplinary and integrated activities in education, research, and catalyzing innovation, all engaging with partners, that makes knowledge exchange more effective.
To investigate academic integration in practice, we invited three case studies: the Singapore University of Technology and Design, University College London, and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
The cases demonstrate the integration of the 11 practices into a coherent whole, indicating that:
  • All 11 academic practices appear in each of the narratives, suggesting that they represent real patterns of behavior at the university.
  • Integration of the practices takes place within each of the three domains leading to the outcomes of the domain.
  • Integration occurs at an overall level—combining education, research, and catalyzing innovation—yielding the overall emergent outcomes of the university.
Edward Crawley, John Hegarty, Kristina Edström, Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez

Chapter 7. Supporting the Academic Mission of the Adaptable University

How do supporting practices like strategy, governance, and culture strengthen university contributions to economic development?
The university is an adaptable organization. As the academic practices in education, research, and catalyzing evolve to involve more knowledge exchange and impact innovation, so too must the supporting practices.
The supporting practices enable the operations of the university, creating a more supportive intellectual and physical ecosystem in which faculty, staff, and students can flourish and contribute.
These supporting practices help focus the university’s resources on important tasks and communicate more effectively.
There are many supporting practices at university. Here we highlight:
  • Engaging external stakeholders to understand their needs and inform the curriculum, research, and innovation agendas.
  • Evolving the university culture to be supportive of activities leading to economic development.
  • Revising the university’s mission, strategy, and priorities to focus investment of resources and to communicate how the university will distinguish itself including in innovation.
  • Updating governance procedures to strengthen the role of knowledge exchange and innovation.
  • Recruiting and developing faculty and staff who will strengthen knowledge exchange and engage in the innovation mission.
  • Ensuring that academic facilities are functionally suitable to new learning, innovation, and collaborative research activities.
Edward Crawley, John Hegarty, Kristina Edström, Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez

Chapter 8. Evaluation and Expectations at the Adaptable University

How do we know that universities are delivering what society needs?
As universities become more important to the development of regions and nations, stakeholders expect them to evaluate their impact.
The main task of this evaluation is to validate the university’s impact in education, research, and catalyzing innovation, and in knowledge exchange.
University should evaluate their outcomes in both quantitative and qualitative terms of their own choosing. This is in contrast with quantitative key performance indicators (KPIs) and standardized third party university rankings.
Evaluation will identify success at the university and how it can improve. This will build confidence and support among stakeholders.
A university should also establish commonly held and domain-specific expectations for faculty members. These provide a basis for recognition of success. They should be aligned with the norms and mission of the university.
These two practices add to the adaptable framework:
  • Program Evaluation: Collecting evidence that reflects the university goals, and evaluating the success of programs or units, demonstrating the contributions of the university.
  • Faculty Expectations and Recognition: Setting expectations and recognizing accomplishments of individuals in education, research, innovation, and knowledge exchange; this will help align the actions of the faculty with the university goals.
Edward Crawley, John Hegarty, Kristina Edström, Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez

Chapter 9. Alignment by Partners with the Adaptable University

How can partners better align their actions to support a university’s contribution to economic development?
For a university to be effective in its broadened economic mission, the university’s partners must take reciprocal action for alignment. Partners are the stakeholders with whom the university actively exchanges knowledge. Key partners are industry and enterprise, government and philanthropies.
Alignment occurs when the partners adopt practices that allow them to understand, support, and benefit from the university.
Alignment by partners ensures that the outcomes of the university actually lead to action by partners, and eventually benefit to society.
We advocate three practices for partners. Also part of the adaptive framework, these practices are:
  • Understanding the university’s needs and capabilities.
  • Building up the university’s capacity to contribute.
  • Developing the partner’s capacity to absorb outcomes from the university: talented graduates, research discoveries, and innovation creation.
These partner practices complement the actions to be taken by the university as part of a systematic approach to knowledge exchange. These university actions are: identifying the needs for stakeholders; executing the activities of the university with a sensitivity to those needs; and proactively exchanging outcomes with partners.
Edward Crawley, John Hegarty, Kristina Edström, Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez

Chapter 10. Embracing Change at the Adaptable University

How does a university change?
Change is necessary at universities that seek to strengthen knowledge exchange and their impact on innovation. Such change is possible and need not be disruptive. It builds on the historic mission of education and research and expands the evolving role of catalyzing innovation.
Throughout their evolution, from ancient teaching academies to contemporary multifaceted institutions, universities have demonstrated an ability of change. The difference is that the pace of change is quickening.
In this book, we present elements that support change at an effective pace. We provided an integrated and systematic approach to knowledge exchange, eleven academic practices each with a rationale and key actions, a framework for an adaptive university, and case studies demonstrating general applicability.
The approach to change depends on the circumstances.
An existing university needs to consider the important strengths of the university’s culture, including collegiality, thought leadership, and the importance of evidence and piloting.
A university system should consider what constitutes a strong system—ambition greater than the sum of the parts, differentiation to allow excellence, competition to avoid complacency, and collaboration to achieve economy of scale.
For newly founded universities, everything has to be created including the culture itself. This requires a careful founding process, enthusiastic champions, definition of vision, and staged implementation.
Edward Crawley, John Hegarty, Kristina Edström, Juan Cristobal Garcia Sanchez


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