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The role of universities in searching for a sustainable future through innovation

Listed author(s):
  • Jean-Michel Larrasquet


    (ESTIA Recherche - Ecole Supérieure des Technologies Industrielles Avancées (ESTIA), CREG - Centre de recherche et d'études en gestion - UPPA - Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour)

  • Véronique Pilnière


    (ESTIA Recherche - Ecole Supérieure des Technologies Industrielles Avancées (ESTIA), CREG - Centre de recherche et d'études en gestion - UPPA - Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour)

Registered author(s):

    The world's economic and political interactions and exchanges are in a considerable mess today. All private and public sector institutions (including universities) are moving in the same direction by adapting, adopting, accepting the logic of market forces and growth as their own values and goals. It is the blind adherence to these values and practices by leaders and managers that has contributed to the chaos in our western societies. Locked into this mode of thinking, they believe that the only way to make progress is to do more and faster, but in doing so, they not only feed the dynamics of a destructive economic and political machine but also take their institutions to the ultimate terminal state. In the process, we have begun to lose our social and generous values; senses (reason); responsibility for our behaviour; social conscience; the sense of solidarity. And paradoxically we are also losing creativity, initiative, genuine innovation and generating conformity. All societies are moving towards entropy. That is fundamentally why tensions have begun to rise and to become definitely unsustainable. In this context what should the role of universities be? Should they all have the same purpose? Should universities reflect the same destructive values as those in society or should they be the leaders highlighting the dangers and offering alternatives? What role should universities play in the reduction of inequalities? What is innovation at social or collective levels? How could we measure the contribution of innovation to the improvement or destruction of the society? In this context, what is sustainable innovation? All these questions challenge the direction taken not only by western societies but also by human civilization as a whole. There is an urgent need for social debate. In this debate, universities should help participants to understand the implications of the choices being made for the future development of human societies. Then, let that debate inform universities, so as to allow them to make their strategic choices, regarding scientific activities, education, research, transfer and innovation, in a better informed manner.

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    Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number hal-00656954.

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    Date of creation: 31 May 2012
    Publication status: Published in International Journal of Technology Management and Sustainable Development, Intellect, 2012, Vol. 11.1 (ISSN : 14742748), à paraître
    Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00656954
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