Bringing society back: a playbook to re-connect science and community

Eva Sormani
Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre

Choiwai Maggie Chak
Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre

LinkedIn profile Research Gate profile

Purpose Within the regional innovation ecosystems, commercialization of research output has been central in the discussion due to its relative ease for measurement. However, far too little attention has been paid to the more complicated process on how universities can enable social innovation (Muhonen, Benneworth & Olmos-Penuela, 2019). Accordingly, the concept of responsible research and innovation (RRI) (European Union, European Commission, and Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, 2013), which highlights the social and moral responsibility for researchers to better align research and innovation processes and outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of the society (Wickson and Carew, 2014), has gained momentum in recent years (Marschalek et al., 2017). Although the potential of interactions between academic and societal stakeholders on facilitating the creation of social-economic value within a regional innovation ecosystem (Carayannis et al., 2017) and universities as organizational entities to drive these interactions has been extensively emphasised (Goel, Göktepe-Hultén & Grimpe, 2017; Jongbloed, Enders, & Salerno, 2008; McKelvey & Zaring, 2018); it has been acknowledged that given the diverse interests and differences in the backgrounds between academic and societal actors, capturing such collaboration is of high complexity and difficulties (Bölling & Eriksson, 2016) and it is essential to get a better understanding of such interactions (Stilgoe, Lock & Wilsdon, 2014). Meanwhile, even though the transfer drivers and barriers have been widely proposed and examined (See Teixeira & Mota, 2012 for a review; Bruneel, D’Este & Salter 2010; Alexander et al., 2018; Ehrismann & Patel, 2015), there is by far a lack of systematic overview and a bridge between knowledge and practice regarding the identified drivers, barriers and the effectiveness of corresponding strategies and tools suggested. To address this knowledge gap, this review examines and synthesises the transfer drivers and barriers of university-society collaboration by acquiring all relevant scientific and managerial literature and tools. This review aims to answer two research questions in the context of university-society collaboration: (1) which common transfer drivers and barriers can be distinguished? and (2) which strategies and tools could promote the drivers and mitigate the barriers identified? Accordingly, the first objective of this review is to identify the transfer drivers and barriers of university-society collaboration. The second objective is to examine and categorise the relevant strategies and tools which reinforce the drivers and mitigate the barriers. Methodology The study is divided into two phases. In phase one, an integrative systematic review (Transfield et al., 2003; Torraco, 2016) was conducted. The review aims at identifying the literature that describes either the transfer drivers and barriers experienced by stakeholders during the process of USC, and/or proposes relevant strategies and tools to reinforce effective collaboration and mitigate the barriers. The literature search was performed by two independent reviewers using the following electronic databases: Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar. The titles, abstracts and full texts of existing qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods studies, including peer-reviewed journal articles, books, reports, practitioner conference proceedings were screened. Eligible studies were determined according to the following criteria: studies that (1) involved collaborative relationships between university and societal stakeholders (including government, health care professionals, industries, civic organisations and citizens); (2) described the process, outcomes and experiences of the collaboration and/or reported measures to reinforce the transfer drivers and/or mitigate the transfer barriers; and (3) published in English or German between 1999 and 2019; and (4) are available in full-texts are included. Studies that (1) did not describe the process of collaboration; or (2) the strategies and/or tools proposed without empirical evidence or validation were excluded. In phase two, based on the results of integrative systematic review, the corresponding strategies and tools will be categorised based on: (1) different phases of the collaboration (e.g. from initiation, planning, implementation to evaluation phases); (2) purposes of application (e.g. to promote certain drivers or to address the barriers) and (3) level of application (e.g. at strategic or operational level); (4) target population; (5) targeted tool users; (5) resources required; and (6) validity and level of empirical effectiveness. Intended contribution The intended contribution is to provide an informative and interactive playbook accompanied with relevant strategies and tools based on scientific and practice literature, so as to inform and guide future practice and research university-society collaboration.