From AACSB's Biz Ed magazine Nov/Dec 2012 issue "Where Technology meets Business":
Earlier this year, Research Universities Futures Consortium, a group of 25 U.S. public and private research universities, released “The Current Health and Future Well-Being of the American University.” Funded by Elsevier, a global provider of science and health information, the report argues that U.S. research universities must adopt greater collaboration, communication, and productivity if they are to remain globally competitive...
From the report (Page 11, Executive Summary)
The unique process by which this study was conducted provides a rich collection of challenges and barriers to success, some that are institution specific and some that are cross cutting and more foundational. What is clear is that many of these are closely connected and co-dependent. At the highest level, the current fragmented approach and the absence of a coherent national plan or rational strategy to support university-based research creates uncertainty that casts a long and darkening shadow over the future of the American research university.
The key findings of this collective effort can be reduced to six overarching themes that provide a framework of understanding and appreciation of the current conditions and an outlook on the future. These also serve to focus our future efforts toward finding sustainable solutions.
- Scarcity of resources (relative to the demand for them) has engendered a hypercompetitive “winner take all” environment and increased the difficulty of managing academic research activities. Growing regulatory requirements have increased the challenge. To enable impact-oriented research that addresses significant social challenges, universities and research sponsors must work together in providing flexible and adaptive strategies, tactics, and operational structures.
- The gradual, ever-increasing growth of government regulation and reporting requirements have exacerbated institutional financial stress and diverted faculty time from research. At the same time, the cost of doing research is not fully recoverable from sponsors.
- Innovation requires diversity of high quality research and development of standardized performance metrics that reliably reflect the complexity and societal expectations of today’s research. This should be initiated by the academic research community, in partnership with key stakeholders.
- Enabling the highest impact research requires current and predictive data to assess programs and evaluate key opportunities in a resource- constrained environment. Strategic decision-making at local, state, and national levels requires data that reflects a local, national and international scope.
- Translating the value of the research university in serving society, contributing to local and regional economies as well as promoting national innovation and security, needs to be a story well told. University faculty, students, staff, and administrators as well as external supporters need to provide clear, consistent, and focused messages to local and national opinion leaders and decision makers. Highly credible accountability and performance-based data from neutral sources need to drive the conversations.
- The fragility of research administration and leadership is not fully understood nor appreciated within the university community or by sponsors and stakeholders. The staffing requirements, competencies, and professionalization of research administrative and program support staff to reliably enable the efficient and effective conduct of research needs to be understood.