Tensions and benefits in collaborative research involving a university and another organization

Loan-Clarke, John and Preston, Diane (2002). Tensions and benefits in collaborative research involving a university and another organization. Studies in Higher Education, 27(2) pp. 169–185.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070220120001


There has been an increasing emphasis on closer links between universities and organisations, both in the UK and elsewhere. This article describes one form of collaboration between a Business School and a National Health Service Trust in the UK. The collaboration was designed to produce research which would be beneficial for both organisations. The specific form of the collaboration was the joint appointment of an organisational development adviser/research assistant. The article analyses the tensions that arose for the academics and the joint appointment holder in respect of the research process. Various tensions were apparent: theory versus practice; generalisability versus specificity of knowledge; research rigour versus research relevance; long(er) versus short timescales of work; 'outsider' and 'insider' perspectives. Sectoral pressures led to differing priorities for the two institutions involved in the collaboration. Despite the pressures, both organisations achieved benefits from the collaboration. However, this type of relationship requires careful management at the institutional and individual levels for such benefits to be realised.

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