Gitu, N 2008, 'The potential for collaboration as a policy strategy to attract external sources of funding for business research: a case study of a regional university', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
Copyright N Gitu 2008
Collaboration is identified within the supply chain management discipline as a strategy that helps to link inter-institutional business research operations in order to achieve a shared market opportunity. Through collaboration, institutions should aim at maintaining a competitive advantage in their core areas of operation.
Researchers have begun to appreciate that through collaboration they are able to achieve combined synergies through effective use of available yet at times scarce resources particularly for research. In the Australian universities research sector collaboration has assumed importance in light of the changing public sector funding environment which is similar to the changes taking place in other parts of the world.
The absence of a comprehensive operational policy on research collaboration at regional Universities in Australia would most likely hinder their capacity to attract funding from external sources for their business research function. Although the strategy of collaboration is widely advocated, no formal studies have been conducted and published in the context of the Australian regional university sector prior to this research.
This thesis set out to fill this perceived gap in the literature by examining the policy issues likely to affect research collaboration at regional universities. For this purpose a research objective and five research questions were identified and defined. The research adopted a qualitative, inductive, theory-building exploratory approach with case study being the main research methodology. The researcher opted for a single case study of a regional university in Australia, where 30 in-depth interviews and an additional 12 interviews representing research partner and beneficiary institutions were conducted.
Upon data collection and data analysis, the following findings emerged:
• researchers were keen to be involved in the development of the policy to facilitate the process of collaboration
• adequate funding is essential for collaboration to achieve the desired results
• the regional university policy on collaboration is reflected in relations with external institutions, there is encouragement for the conduct of joint research with stakeholders • the policy on collaboration impacts on university’s research focus, and should be comprehensively addressed
• for the policy on collaboration to become operationally feasible the guidelines should have specific objectives with measurable outcomes.
Further to these findings, it has been concluded that:
• a comprehensive policy addressing the concerns of all stakeholders should be employed to facilitate the process of collaboration
• sharing of information within and among partners should lead to synergies and opportunities for additional funding
• the university policy on collaboration reflection in external relations should help in recognising the institution as a regionally, nationally and internationally recognised research university
• the regional university impact on research focus should be comprehensively addressed in the policy on research collaboration, and
• for the policy to become operationally feasible the guidelines should have specific objectives with measurable outcomes.
Based upon the surveyed literature (Chapter 2), the analysis of field data (Chapter 4), the researcher’s understanding of the capacity, importance and relevance of collaboration as a strategy to attract external funding for business research, a conceptual model has emerged. The model enables the researcher to shed light on the research issue, the policy issues likely to affect collaboration at a regional university. The empirical research findings derived from this research have further implications for theory, policy and practice. Finally, the conclusions and implications provide a valid foundation for further research. This will be imperative in order to obtain a deeper understanding of the underlying issues.