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University and Knowledge Society

Central University of Venezuela, Caracas
Miguel Ángel Briceño, Dr.Phil.
mibricen@gmail.com


Abstract

The relation between the university and its environment has been gaining more and more
importance with time. The discussion about the measures to be taken in order to achieve an
active participation in dialogs and concrete actions for the transformation of this relation, in
turn, has become the basis for the reformulation of university policies in the whole world.
This paper is aimed at examining the different current trends that are showing in the world
regarding the relation among the university, the productive sector, the Government and the
local communities, in order to propose new action strategies in the framework of
Venezuelan universities.


The change in the mission of the university

The Mexican analyst Arturo Guillaumín Tostado
1
calls our attention to the fact that the
cultural mission of the university is being gradually substituted by the rationality of
"excellence", which is based on competitiveness and on the mercantile ideology of global
capitalism. According to the author, a vision that has been gaining ground day by day is one
in which the university has transformed into an enterprise that produces and
commercializes knowledge and services to meet the requirements of those sectors capable
of paying for them. For instance, they would be offering intensive use of information
technology, incorporating "virtuality" to the learning process, opening-up more toward the
environment (specially toward the modern productive sectors and the international field),
offering short degree courses and flexible curricula adjustable to the emerging markets,
emphasizing on technological development, providing services as a new way of funding,
adopting the concepts "excellence" and "competitiveness" from the business world.

Within this framework, he proposes the creation of original organizations endowed with
new qualities and the capacity to establish a permanent dialog with their complex
environment, free form the vices, fragmentation, bureaucracies and heavy structures of
current universities. They should be organizations where teaching for the labor market and
specialized technical training can be substituted by an integral and open education that
contributes to self-training of the individual and to civic education. Besides, this reform
should go beyond the democratization of the university education; it must change our
capacity to organize knowledge, this is, to think.
To this effect, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity must be the new foundations of
university work. In sum, we would need a carefully conceived organizational environment

1
Arturo Guillaumín Tostado. Complejidad, transdisciplina y redes: hacia la construcción colectiva de una
nueva universidad. E-mail: aguillau@email.com.. [http://www.unam.mx/ceiich/educacion/guillaumin.htm]

in our universities, designed for the production and distribution of new goods and services
within a framework of hyper-competition and change.


Entrepreneurs in the academy and scholars in the enterprise

The tie between business and academia —defined as the effort to increase the individual
and institutional gains, as well as prestige, through the development and commercialization
of ideas and products resulting from research activities— is being studied nowadays
according to the five basic forms in which this relation is showing:
(1) a wide-range relation established by the science (which is attained through significant
research with extremely consolidated projects),
(2) one established in order to receive additional income outside of the university, mainly
by means of consultancy (knowledge transfer for personal gain),
(3) a relation aimed at asking the industry for funds (capitalizing on the university-industry
relationship in order to have more funding sources for research),
(4) one seeking the basis needed to patent research results, and
(5) one established to create companies based on research results.

In a study carried out by Louis et. al.
2
, it was found that many US scientists still believe that
the search for the truth is incompatible with any interest in capitalizing on ideas, but there is
no evidence to suggest that a new type of "entrepreneurial scholar" has emerged in the
majority of the universities. These authors support the argument that an entrepreneurial
behavior has spontaneously evolved within the scientific community and is not
incompatible with scholarship. Their data also suggest that most of the academic groups at
the analyzed universities do not develop norms or show any stable behavioral patterns that
foster any form of relation towards entrepreneurship.

However, the emerging structures resulting from this new situation, although their form is
yet far from clear, are posing major challenges for S&T policy makers at government and
institutional levels as well as for R&D managers. In the face of this situation, Turpin et. al.
3

ask themselves: What are the implications that this reorganization in the scientific and
business field bring to research and development management? Do new structures imply
new types of management strategies?

These authors created a typology, in which the traditional knowledge production that
occurs within a mainly cognitive disciplinary framework would be the knowledge

2
Karen Seashore Louis; David Blumenthal; Michael E. Gluck; Michael A. Soto. Entrepreneurs in academe:
an exploration of behaviors among life scientists. Administrative Science Quarterly, March 1989 v34 n1 p110
(22). Expanded Academic ASAP Int'l Ed.
[http://web7.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/992/997/55565360w3/purl=rc1_EIM_0_A7217498&dyn=1
3!xrn_36_0_A7217498?sw_aep=consejow]

3
Tim Turpin; Sam Garrett-Jones; Nicole Rankin. Bricoleurs and boundary riders: managing basic research
and innovation knowledge networks R & D Management, Julio 1996 v26 n3 p267(16). Expanded Academic
ASAP Int'l Ed.
[http://web7.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/992/997/55565360w3/purl=rc1_EIM_0_A18634971&dyn=
5!xrn_6_0_A18634971?sw_aep=consejow
production "Mode 1". With the emergence of "Mode 2", knowledge is produced in broader
transdisciplinary social and economic contexts, comprising a different set of cognitive and
social practices. "Mode 2" is a combination of traditional disciplinary science and
technology that complements but does not substitute "Mode 1", although "Mode 2" may
eventually incorporate "Mode 1".

An important finding of that study would be that the communication and use of "Mode 2"
research results is very contextual, comprising techniques, instrumentation and tacit
knowledge, apart from scientific literature. "Mode 2" research can be characterized as:

transdisciplinary and institutionalized in a more heterogeneous and flexible socially
distributed system;
carried out in a framework of application constituted by a set of intellectual and social
demands that is more diverse than that of many applied sciences, which in turn may
give rise to genuine basic research;
heterarchical (encompassing powerful "outsiders") and transient, emphasizing social
and informal networks;
including a wider, more temporary and heterogeneous set of practitioners, taking part at
solving a well-defined problem within an specific and localized framework;
more socially accountable and reflexive, considering marketability, cost effectiveness,
social acceptability, for instance, in the definition of research problems; and
its results are shared with those who have taken part in that activity, and are
subsequently diffused mainly as the original practitioners move to other frameworks of
the problem.

With this "Mode 2" research operating in networked structures that comprise industry and
research institutions, science has become reinstitutionalized and in the process the role of
scientists has changed. "Bricoleurs" have a defined repertoire of scientific or industrial
expertise that can be transformed into a wide variety of potential applications. They are
constantly on the lookout for new applications for their expertise.

Contrary to the bricoleurs, there are those named by the author as "boundary riders". These
are more worried about protecting their knowledge of, and investment in, a particular
science based technology or industry. They also look outwards, but only in order to detect
any potential threat to their investment or to identify foreign scientific breakthroughs that
can be adapted to their core technology. Their role is more like a maintenance role.
Experienced boundary riders are required to "beat the boundaries" to place the scientific
breakthroughs within the productive sphere and to keep this capability as an important
resource for collaborative association. Bricoleurs and boundary riders can be located in the
science or in the industry; in other words, they can be entrepreneurs in the academia or
scholars in the enterprise.

According to the results of that study, experienced industrial boundary riders are required
for the relocation of science into the productive sector to defend their organizations, and,
recently, for the defense of their industrial activities. At the same time, scientific boundary
riders are required in the academically generated industrial activities to cover, defend or
enhance a particular technology niche. Contrary, but many times complementary, to the
scientific boundary rider, the scientific bricoleur is looking for new opportunities to
develop new applications in the business world.

Finally, it has been found that, in such network of organizations, the flow of tacit
knowledge —knowledge that cannot be codified and that results from trial, error and
learning, rather than from the systematic application of scientific knowledge— can become
a determinant factor compared to the knowledge that has been previously included in
patents, copyright or in the international scientific literature. In this sense, a potential
consequence of this reorganization of research could be that science (as the pursuit of
knowledge) could become a cultural relic, an activity related to the "elders" but of little
relevance (economic relevance) nowadays. There is, however, a more optimistic point of
view, according to which scientific institutions do have the potential to relocate science
within the emerging local, national and global cultures.

Another important issue is the actual ability of the universities to play this new role, since
there are not enough reasons to believe that in all cases there are a priori scientists with
business abilities. As it is well known, there are not many of those in the universities
nowadays. According to Louis, Blumenthal, Gluck and Soto
4
, there are four possible
explanations for the concentration of entrepreneurial scholars in specific institutions:
(1) Self-selection may generate value and general behavior consensus (individuals feel
attracted to these institutions because they are considered to be tolerant of
entrepreneurship);
(2) Behavioral socialization may operate within a work group (individuals are affected by
their nearest colleagues' behavior, which they tend to copy);
(3) Organizational culture may affect (a broader set of institutional policies, procedures and
values that reinforces attitudes and behavior concerning entrepreneurship);
(4) Strategic management may be a factor (some universities use this type of hiring
procedures in order to be in the vanguard of academic behavior changing patterns and
to potentially profit from increased institutional prestige and income).


University and regional development

Another key element in the current discussion at the international level is the role of the
university as a mediator for regional development, or as a contributor to the development of
the society. Certainly, there is an argument against this role of the university that warns us
from the danger of underestimating the value of research carried out at the university by
considering it just a source of technology. In the opinion of Professor Florida
5
, for instance,
university scholars and administrators are each day more and more convinced that research
at the university is moving from basic science to more applied work.

4
Karen Seashore Louis; David Blumenthal; Michael E. Gluck; Michael A. Soto. Already mentioned (see
footnote 2)

5
Richard Florida. The role of the university: leveraging talent, not technology. Mark Issues in Science and
Technology, Summer 1999 v15 i4 p67(7). Expanded Academic ASAP Int'l Ed.
[http://web5.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/267/803/35791025w3/purl=rc1_EIM_0_A55427160&dyn=
40!xrn_2_0_A55427160?sw_aep=consejow]

According to the author, universities are naively seen as innovation "artifacts" that produce
new ideas, which can lead to commercial innovations and regional growth. Within this
framework, he argues that if policy makers at the federal, regional and local level really
want universities to play a role in fostering economic growth, they should see the problem
from a different perspective. They would have to stop encouraging activities between the
university and the industry for their own benefit. Instead, they should focus on
strengthening the ability of the university to attract more intelligent people from
everywhere in the world: This would be the real starting point of a knowledge economy. By
attracting these people and by disseminating the knowledge they produce rapidly and
widely, universities would influence more significantly the nation economy, as well as
regional growth. For their part, universities should be vigilant against government policies
and agreements in the industry that could hinder or hold up copyright researchers from
discovering new things. The study concludes that working with the industry for the
commercialization of research creates significant delays in the publication process as well
as reluctance for the sharing of research results. But at the same time, there is the fact that
universities are concerned with their search for industrial funds, which they need in order to
carry out their activities.

This author's argument is based on studies carried out by Michael Fogarty and Amit Sinha,
who suggest that although new knowledge can be generated in many places, only those
regions that can absorb and apply these ideas are the ones that can transform them into
economic wealth. Apart from its role as innovations incubator and commercial technology
transfer body, there is a broader and more important role to be played by the university,
which is, the attraction and generation of talent. Knowledge workers "want to be around
other smart people". Proficient people attract other proficient people, and places with many
proficient people attract enterprises that want to have access to that talent, which creates a
self-reinforcing cycle of growth.

There is also the position of Merced County
6
against the negative viewpoint of the
university as energy for the economy; this County is preparing a master plan for the new
community that will develop on the lands around the future University of California. To
this effect, Merced County is closely collaborating with the university, landowners and the
local community in order to address a wide range of issues of common concern. The
University Community Plan will define a vision of the future by incorporating advanced
thoughts on planning for urban development, environmental stewardship, infrastructure
systems and economic development.

According to the organizers, the new campus constitutes a unique opportunity for San
Joaquín Valley. It implies the creation of a new and dynamic university of research for the
21
st
century, and of a new prosperous and well-designed "University Community", which
will support the campus and the region, and which will serve as a pattern for responsible
growth in San Joaquín Valley. There, we will see parallel action of the university and the
region where it is located.


6
Merced County. California, USA [http://www.merceducp.org/index.html]

University ethical issues

There is another very important aspect in the discussion regarding the new entrepreneurial
role of the university, namely the ethical issues. We are facing a problem when we consider
that the mission and objectives of the university are not necessarily tied to the teaching
practice anymore: "the wide dispersion of responsibility in the university contributes to the
fact that no one considers him/herself specifically responsible"
7
.

Counelis has found that the lack of empirical data on the ethical behavior of the university
is a serious institutional deficit. Therefore, he proposes a creative institutional research that
can be vigorously oriented towards the achievement of two new objectives of ethical
importance for the university:
to provide solidity to science regarding the internal and external ethical behavior of the
university. By using this information, the university could design appropriate policies
and an intrainstitutional plan aimed at generating information that would serve as a
moral guide.
to provide the casuistry (this is, the knowledge based on cases) for the metaethical
discourse within the university. This discourse would be the basis for the creation of
such axiology-based epistemical principles required for efficient policymaking in the
university and for the provision of ethical principles that could serve as a guide to the
organizational and individual behavior.

These reflections are actually not new. They stem from the beginning of the modern
university in Europe. Although in the philosophical field Kant was mainly interested in
liberating philosophy and reason from the ropes of a dogmatic Church and of the State to
which it was tied, F. W. J. Schelling, in his Vorlesungen über die Methode des
akademischen Studiums (1803) (translated in 1966 as On University Studies), was more
worried about the threat that the growing trend towards specialization represented for
knowledge and about the danger that he saw in the possible transformation of universities
into "industrial training schools"
8
. Although Schelling knew this was possible, he shared
Kant's conviction regarding the possibility that universities could be "actual scientific
institutions" devoted to the life of ideas to the freest scientific activity, provided that
knowledge unity would be granted through philosophy.

According to Heidegger, if philosophy were to be possible again in the university, higher
education institutions would first have to be completely transformed, so that
"philosophizing were a living act". Moreover, the Kantian-Humboldtian conception of the

7
James Steve Counelis. Toward empirical studies on university ethics: a new role for institutional research.
Journal of Higher Education, Jan-Feb 1993 v64 n1 p74(19). Expanded Academic ASAP Int'l Ed.
[http://web7.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/992/997/55565360w3/purl=rc1_EIM_0_A13857749&dyn=
13!xrn_31_0_A13857749?sw_aep=consejow

8
Alan Milchman; Alan Rosenberg. Martin Heidegger and the university as a site for the transformation of
human existence. The Review of Politics, Wntr 1997 v59 n1 p75(22).Academic ASAP Int'l Ed.
[http://web7.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/992/997/55565360w3/purl=rc1_EIM_0_A19312980&dyn=
10!xrn_17_0_A19312980?sw_aep=consejow
university would no longer work as a model for that renewal. In any case, the Kantian ideal
of university, in which the faculty of philosophizing and its search of "the truth" controlled
the other faculties, had disappeared long before Heidegger had even been born, in the case
that this ideal had actually existed as effective behavior of universities.


The capability of our universities and local requirements

We are now living times of obsolescence of the National State, regarding both its internal
structure and its leadership role in policymaking and in the creation and implementation of
plans and projects aimed at achieving national and local development. In sum, we are living
times of what at the international level has been regarded as bankruptcy times.

But, at the same time, we are living a period of profound changes in the technical structure
of production and in its interactive relationship with the other spheres that constitute the
expression of productive and reproductive social work. Very soon, knowledge industries
will be the ones that will predominate in the economic networks, and those that will chart
the course and take part in any economic and social development plan in the world in the
decades to come.

This situation will result in two main changes: Firstly, there will be a shift of focus in
search of a dynamism that will not and can not be in the hands of the Federal State
anymore. Secondly, and more specifically, there will be a shift in the role of social agents
interacting to achieve development, which will now be the role of universities, since these
are the only ones in our countries nowadays that produce knowledge at the local level
within a national spectrum.

In other words, in order to transform the economic structure, in a competitive manner, we
have to address the problem in a bottom-up way, beginning at the local level. We will have
to transform the local productive economic structure on the basis of knowledge industries,
which will give dynamism the whole system and provide the added value necessary to meet
the social needs. In this process, the universities will be responsible for changing their
function: They would stop being producers of professionals that will enter an obsolete labor
market, and start being trainers of knowledge producers, this is, of the new entrepreneurs of
knowledge industries —those whose raw material is 60% gray matter. In the face of this
situation, we wonder if our universities are capable of assuming this new role in an efficient
and effective way.


References

Alan Milchman; Alan Rosenberg. . Martin Heidegger and the university as a site for the transformation of
human existence. The Review of Politics, Wntr 1997 v59 n1 p75(22).Academic ASAP Int'l Ed.
[http://web7.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/992/997/55565360w3/purl=rc1_EIM_0_A19312980&dyn=
10!xrn_17_0_A19312980?sw_aep=consejow]
Arturo Guillaumín Tostado. Complejidad, transdisciplina y redes: hacia la construcción colectiva de una
nueva universidad. E-mail: aguillau@email.com.. [http://www.unam.mx/ceiich/educacion/guillaumin.htm]
Merced County. California, USA [http://www.merceducp.org/index.html]
James Steve Counelis. Toward empirical studies on university ethics: a new role for institutional research.
Journal of Higher Education, Jan-Feb 1993 v64 n1 p74(19). Expanded Academic ASAP Int'l Ed.
[http://web7.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/992/997/55565360w3/purl=rc1_EIM_0_A13857749&dyn=
13!xrn_31_0_A13857749?sw_aep=consejow]
Karen Seashore Louis; David Blumenthal; Michael E. Gluck; Michael A. Soto. Entrepreneurs in academe: an
exploration of behaviors among life scientists. Administrative Science Quarterly, March 1989 v34 n1
p110(22). Expanded Academic ASAP Int'l Ed.
[http://web7.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/992/997/55565360w3/purl=rc1_EIM_0_A7217498&dyn=1
3!xrn_36_0_A7217498?sw_aep=consejow]
Richard Florida. The role of the university: leveraging talent, not technology. Mark Issues in Science and
Technology, Summer 1999 v15 i4 p67(7). Expanded Academic ASAP Int'l Ed.
[http://web5.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/267/803/35791025w3/purl=rc1_EIM_0_A55427160&dyn=
40!xrn_2_0_A55427160?sw_aep=consejow]
Tim Turpin; Sam Garrett-Jones; Nicole Rankin. Bricoleurs and boundary riders: managing basic research
and innovation knowledge networks. R & D Management, Julio 1996 v26 n3 p267(16). Expanded Academic
ASAP Int'l Ed.
[http://web7.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/992/997/55565360w3/purl=rc1_EIM_0_A18634971&dyn=
5!xrn_6_0_A18634971?sw_aep=consejow]