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Government policy, university strategy and the academic entrepreneur: the case of Queensland's Smart State Institutes

  • Mark Dodgson
  • Jonathan Staggs
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    Significant new university initiatives are usually analysed from the perspectives of government policy, university strategy or the entrepreneurship of particular individuals, but rarely from the view of their interdependencies. This paper reports on the creation of four Smart State Institutes at the University of Queensland in Australia and the concatenation of circumstances, decisions and actions that led to their formation. In the course of just over a decade, these Institutes, addressing biotechnology, nanotechnology, neuroscience and the molecular and cellular basis of disease, have developed into a cluster of scientific research of global significance, raising over $1 billion in investment and employing 1300 staff.A case study approach was employed in the analysis, involving 59 semi-structured interviews with key individuals involved at the organisational, regional and national levels. A range of archival data were collected and analysed to help construct a rigorous chronology of the key events, reports and actions that led to the development of the Institutes.Our research identifies the importance of the policy context, at both the Federal and State levels, conducive to the investment in the new Institutes. It shows how the University's leadership and strategy took advantage of policy conditions, with a number of individual academic entrepreneurs providing the actions necessary to shape and guide the creation of the Institutes. Private philanthropy played a crucial role as animateur amongst the contributors. We argue the importance of the mutually reinforcing and concurrent contribution of all these actors and draw lessons for future government and university policy. Copyright The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Cambridge Political Economy Society. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

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    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Cambridge Journal of Economics.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 567-585

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:36:y:2012:i:3:p:567-585
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    1. Dodgson, M. & Foster, J. & Hughes, A. & Metcalfe, J.S., 2009. "Systems Thinking, Market Failure, and the Development of Innovation Policy: The Case of Australia," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp397, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
    2. Jain, Sanjay & George, Gerard & Maltarich, Mark, 2009. "Academics or entrepreneurs? Investigating role identity modification of university scientists involved in commercialization activity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 922-935, July.
    3. Atkinson, Robert D., 1991. "Innovation policy making in a federalist system: Lessons from the states for U.S. federal innovation policy making," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 559-577, December.
    4. Ron A. Boschma & Markku Sotarauta, 2005. "Economic policy from an evolutionary perspective: the case of Finland," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0509, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Aug 2005.
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