Of course universities matter – as they should and always will – but the broad trend that we have noted is that firms, think tanks, NGOs, multilateral organizations, topic-specific expert groups, and so on, are playing an increasingly important role in the production of knowledge, of innovation, of creative impulses.
The Technology Review (published by MIT) only lists 17 out of 35 “Young Innovators Under 35” with affiliations to universities. This number is down from 22 out of 25 in 2007. The other 18 “young innovators” in 2008 are based in firms including Drupal, ICx Technologies, Thatgamecompany, and Twitter. Now, it is easy to be be critical or suspicious regarding this pattern, and even more so as this is but one US-based technology-focused magazine (as proxy measure). Yet universities are becoming, according to increasing numbers of analysts merely one of many sites of knowledge production; a diversification trend that begs the question why?
Is it because of relatively low pay, or rigid institutional structures and lack of opportunity for career progression? Or is it because of ever increasing demands on faculty as mission mandates widen? Or is it due to morale challenges in the context of limited (or declining) levels of state funding? Or is it because the carrots associated with firms and NGOs, for example, are all too obvious to young researchers? Why wait 10-15 years, if one is lucky, to get the position and space to be somewhat independently creative, when this space is on offer, right now, outside of academe? The creation of an attractive and conducive context, especially for young researchers, is a challenge right now in numerous higher ed systems. [bron: Global HigherEd]
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