Comparing U.S. and European Views of University Involvement in Economic Development
University researchers are now considered by many as key actors in the building of knowledge economies in their regions, as universities are assumed to be important engines of regional economic well-being. Yet within the academy not all faculty are accepting of these roles for their institutions, for a variety of reasons. We measure faculty attitudes towards their universities being involved in (a) assisting regional economic development and (b) the commercialization of knowledge more generally using web-based surveys. Then using secondary data from a variety of sources, we attempt to explain the variation in attitudes among faculty in terms of: (i) individual attributes and professional experiences, (ii) scholarly disciplinary of the faculty member, (iii) institutional characteristics of their respective university, and (iv) regional economic conditions. Using ordered logit models, we test to see if faculty view a distinction in appropriateness of universities assisting economic development versus appropriateness of the commercialization of knowledge, whether there are differences between U.S. and EU faculty in their attitudes towards each type of activity, and whether faculty in regions undergoing industrial restructuring or in economic distress have more favorable attitudes towards each activity. Results to-date indicate that faculty have more favorable attitudes towards their universities assisting regional economic development compared to commercialization of knowledge, that universities individual and disciplinary variables are more important than institutional and regional economic variables, and that there are strong similarities in attitudes between U.S. and EU faculty attitudes, but with a few interesting exceptions.
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