The difficulty in perfecting partnerships
- Published: Wednesday, 03 July 2013 13:28
- Written by Prof David Greenaway
Will unsuccessful collaborators be shot? It can be a risky business.
Although there are many marvellous partnerships, business and universities start off as two things extremely unalike. Take one for instance: language. Even the words are different. In fact before partnering or contracting with universities I had only ever come across the idea of collaboration as a bad thing. Collaboration was done with the enemy. Only bad people collaborated with the enemy. Usually in doing so they betrayed their nation and were in risk of getting shot or worse after the war. There was a variant: collaboration horizontale which sounded less dangerous but also ended badly. Yet here we are: "collaborate" is what businesses and universities now do. Hopefully neither is betraying a cause. Here are two other examples of different paradigms.
Whereas nearly every employee in a business (certainly from mid-levels upwards) will have a personal incentive (usually bonus but often in terms of promotion) to see the collaboration be financially successful; usually no one will in the university. Most university staff face only downside risk in collaboration. It goes well, it is a university initiative. It goes badly… and there’s a danger of a witch-hunt to see which nitwit signed the institution up in the first place.
Secondly, most businesses are strictly hierarchical in decision-making, though democratic in tone. Universities are often the opposite. Most businesses don’t defer in manners to their seniors – there cannot be any CEOs left who insist being called on by their title. The decision-making in a business usually comes down to one decision-maker, even if there is a peer group to take soundings or juniors to influence decision-making. Most universities are the opposite. The VC is referred to as the VC, even if she/he is present in the room, but the decision-making in a university is often/usually by committees.
Different ways of doing things, neither better nor worse. But beware of the difference. Sometimes putting universities and businesses together can feel as easy as mixing a moose and a fridge. It works, can be brilliant, but requires creativity.
The University of Nottingham has moved a step closer to its goal of commercialising research into developing sustainable chemicals.
Nottingham Lakeside Arts at the University of Nottingham has been awarded funding to encourage and enable its students to pursue a career in the creative industries.
Ingenuity is the University of Nottingham’s annual innovation competition designed to discover and support a generation of social and commercial innovators in the UK and beyond.
A hugely successful business growth programme at the University of Nottingham came to a close last month.
Nottingham-based entrepreneurs and Nottingham University Business School's Dr O’Neil have created a toolkit designed to help women define their own success.
A flagship research facility is opening its doors at the University of Nottingham to help future-proof UK industry in a competitive global market.
Partnership will support spin-out companies, helping them obtain finance, expertise, and accelerating rate at which innovations are able to be commercialised.
This ground-breaking partnership between Air Race E and the University of Nottingham will have a huge impact across the electric aviation industry.
Bacteria resistant materials discovered by scientists at the University of Nottingham have been developed for medical use by the company Camstent.
The University of Nottingham has a track record of science and engineering partnerships with industry partners like Rolls-Royce, Unilever and Siemens.
A long-standing collaboration between The University of Nottingham and e2v has resulted in significant benefits for both organisations.
Microbrewers in the Midlands are finding export success with the help of science and market research.
Judith Wayte on how work placements can help students understand career choices with retailers, manufacturers and R&D.
Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Nottingham University Business School argues for the value of working with SMEs
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products, reaching 2 billion consumers across 190 countries on any given day.
Sir Andrew Witty’s Review of Universities and Growth has now been presented to Government. Will it change anything?
Although there are many marvellous partnerships, business and universities start off as two things extremely unalike.