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From J. Huisman and A. Pausits, eds.

(2010) Higher Education Management and

Development. Compendium for Managers, Waxman Verlag GmbH, Mnster, pp131-146.

Research Strategy and Management: University-Based Research in the Knowledge


Ellen Hazelkorn, PhD, is Vice President of Research and Enterprise, and Dean of the
Graduate Research School, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland
Sabine Herlitschka, PhD, MBA, is Director of the Division of European and International
Programmes at FFG- Austrian Research Promotion Agency, and founding Vice-Rector for
Research Management & International Cooperation at the Medical University of Graz,
Carolin Auer, PhD, MA, is Director of the Research Management Office, Medical University
of Graz, Austria

1. Introduction
Knowledge is widely considered to be the essential generator of material benefit for
individuals and nations in much the same way that agriculture, manufacturing or capital did
previously. Successful economies are those which rely more on the ability to exploit
knowledge for competitive advantage and performance ... through investment in knowledgebased and intellectual assets: R&D, software, design new process innovation, and human and
organizational capital. The European Council Lisbon Strategy acknowledged this by aiming
to make Europe the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world
by 2010 by investing 3% GDP in R&D and doubling the number of PhD students. While this
target may not be reached, it remains a strategic target because the total investment in R&D
despite representing an input indicator - is a critical indicator of success (Barlow, 2007). At
the same time, research is vital to higher educations mission, to the creation of a stimulating
learning environment, to attract and retain high quality faculty and students, to maintain
cutting edge curriculum, to help sustain relationships with other academic institutions, the
professions and industry, to expand the boundaries of knowledge and understanding within
and across the disciplines, and to appeal to philanthropy.
Global competition means that research capacity and capability has become central to both
government policy-making, and university status and reputation. These developments have

transformed university-based research from an individual pursuit to an academic enterprise

which needs to be managed. Having a research strategy and establishing the appropriate
internal structures are now top priorities.
This chapter will begin by highlighting theoretical and policy changes which have
underpinned these developments, and then discuss the role of research management and the
research office. A case study of research management at the newly founded Medical
University of Graz will provide a good example of how a university goes about defining a
research strategy, setting priorities and meeting the challenges that arise.

2. Higher Education: a Driver of Economic and Social Change

Higher education has three key objectives: to produce new knowledge, to produce new
knowledge workers, and to produce new knowledge producers. In other words, through
education and research, higher education has a critical role in human capital formation,
discovery and the translation of new ideas into new products and services. This means it is no
longer a privilege for elites but a crucial national asset for society.
The classical university of Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835, founder University of Berlin,
1810) and Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890, inspiration for establishment of
Catholic University, Ireland, 1852-58) saw the mission and role of higher education and
academic research as distinct from commercial activity. Universities were the training ground
for professionals, with a strong emphasis on the diffusion and extension of knowledge rather
than its advancement. US Land Grant Universities, developed under the 1862 Morrill Act,
shifted the emphasis by encouraging the teaching of agriculture, science and engineering as a
response to the industrial revolution. This relationship was furthered after WW2 with the
growing significance of scientific discovery, and the perceived gap between investment and
output in terms of innovation and contribution to the national economy. Vannevar Bush,
Director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development under Franklin D.
Roosevelt, published Science The Endless Frontier in 1945. Its focus was on fundamental
scientific research, excluding the humanities and social sciences, closely aligned with social
and economic progress and set the basis for structured governmental research funding at
national level.
New products, new industries, and more jobs require continuous additions to
knowledge of the laws of nature, and the application of that knowledge to practical
purposes.... without scientific progress no amount of achievement in other
directions can insure our health, prosperity, and security as a nation in the modern
Russias launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 spurred the US to erect a national system of Graduate
Schools to train the next generation of scholar-researchers actions now being assiduously
copied by governments across Europe and around the world.
In the decades since, university-based research has come to be viewed not simply as the
driver of economic growth but a vital part of the research-innovation eco-system. Porter

(1990), Lundvall (1992) and Nelson (1993) argued that economic growth in advanced
industrial nations is dependent upon collaboration and interdependence between different
actors (universities, private firms, government/public sector) and between science, research
and development. The idea of the national innovation system was expanded upon by
Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff (1997) who developed the concept of the triple helix to illustrate
the essential interaction between higher education, public sector/government and private
These concepts still view university-based research as essentially the main source of new
knowledge albeit working in partnership with other sectors. Gibbons et al challenged this idea
with their concept of Mode 2 research. Whereas traditional knowledge production (Mode 1)
was disciplinary or curiosity-oriented usually conducted by individuals in secluded/semisecluded environment, Mode 2 knowledge is socially robust created within the context of
being useful. No longer confined to the university, it is interdisciplinary and conducted in
active engagement and collaboration with society the wider community, civil society,
industry, and the region. This change of emphasis is reflected in EU policy which aims to
overcome the fragmentation of the knowledge system by linking the three elements of the
knowledge triangle education, research and innovation to encompass the whole
innovation chain from education to economic impact (European Commission COM (2005),
24 final) or the research, innovation and commercialization eco-system (Irish Government,
Together these concepts have promoted a new organisational model for higher education and
university-based research which are not without their challenges or critics. For example, by
situating university-based research as the driver of economic development, it may become
side-lined by private sector interests. There are risks to scientific integrity, objectivity, and
independence of academic research (Bok, 2003, p156). Dependence on competitive funding
has led to a winner takes all environment encouraging a reputation race, in which research
is increasingly concentrated into a smaller number of institutions, nationally and
internationally; this could reduce national research capacity with knock-on consequences for
regional economic performance and the capacity for technology innovation (Lambert, 2003,
p6). Emphasis on the conversion of knowledge into new products and services through
licensing intellectual property rights and creating high-performance start-up companies
(HPSU) has transformed knowledge into a marketable commodity, often with exaggerated
expectations and claims of return-on-investment (Mowry et al, 2001).
These comments do not, however, detract from the fact that university-based research is
widely acknowledged as a major contributor to the knowledge society/economy or smart
state. Rather they put even strong[er] pressure on universities as central actors (EU, 2009).

3. Research Management
Given this changing policy framework, the management and leadership of university-based
research has become a critical issue for universities. Developing research capacity and

capability are no longer optional, and research is no longer an individual activity but a major
institutional challenge. Rather, it is increasingly project-based, externally funded (European
Commission Expert Group, 2009) and subjected to continual assessment and evaluation at
the national, institutional and individual level.
The changing environment as described affects all universities in Europe and world-wide. As
far as South Eastern Europe is concerned, research - primarily found at academies of
sciences - has a different institutional history. However, several of the South Eastern
European countries went through university reforms that also strengthened the role of
university-based research. While the reflections on research management described in this
chapter are in principle relevant without any geographical differences, it is clear that the
extent and dimension of these reflections may vary depending on the historical background
of the respective university system.

The next sections briefly describe different aspects of research management.

3.1 Research Strategy and Priority Setting

The first step in research management is defining the strategy. It should identify signature
research themes which are aligned with the institutional mission, and the national and global
higher education landscape. The strategy should i) outline the policy environment, ii)
identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), and iii) set priorities and
targets. While traditionally this may have been an informal process, today it is considered an
essential component of good governance and management, and many governments require it
as a precondition for funding.
Because the costs of conducting research are rising and competition for funding is
intensifying, universities are realising that it is no longer possible to be excellent in all
knowledge domain. Priority-setting is both a good and indispensable practice (Hazelkorn,
2005, p70). This necessitates making choices between national, institutional and individual
researcher priorities. Ideally, universities seek to accommodate all three factors but often this
is not possible, and institutions are forced to encourage researchers to realign their interests
with national and institutional priorities in order to win competitive funding.
Priority-setting is not without its difficulties. Discordance can arise between faculty because
of perceived or actual preference given to particular disciplines or research themes a
decision which often has resource allocation implications. This is because national research
policy may favour designated strategic priorities which are earmarked for special funding.
Given finite resources, universities may decide to provide enhanced facilities, promotion and
other benefits to active researchers only. Disciplinary approaches to research can also
influence priority setting; for example, in the arts and humanities, priorities have tended to be
set by individual researchers, while scientists are more accustomed to responding to external
opportunities as part of a research team.

To boost research performance and quality, universities are adopting a range of strategies: i)
encouraging and supporting the formation of sustainable research teams critical mass with
high levels of research productivity; ii) recruiting international scholars with high levels of
research output and citations; iii) introducing human resource policies which reward research
performance; iv) developing targeted training initiatives to improve faculty performance; and
v) using resource allocation to support research centres and institutes with the best
performance (Hazelkorn, 2005, pp54-67).
3.2 The Research Office
The Research Office is at the centre of an increasingly professionalized approach to research
management, providing services to individuals and teams of researchers, and audit functions
for both the institution and government agencies. Led most often by a Deputy or Pro Vicechancellor or Vice-President for Research or Research and Enterprise, it has an explicit role
to manage, organize and improve the competitive performance of research. Depending upon
the institution, s/he is the institutional link and co-ordinator between and across faculties and
management. There is usually a university research committee which brings together
representatives of the research community to help define strategy and identify opportunities.
Typically, the Research Office fulfils a number of functions, inter alia: Project preparation
and application writing, Financial and budget advice; Identification of funding sources;
Research supervisor registration and training; Audit of research activity and income;
Research ethics processing; and Publicity and public awareness. The Technology Transfer
Office (TTO) is a relatively new addition, and exists either as a sub- or separate unit. It is
usually responsible for the commercialisation of intellectual property, patents, licensing and
other forms of exploitation and company formation in addition to sector intelligence.
3.3 Defining Research
Research has traditionally been divided into two major functions, basic and applied. Basic
research is aimed at gaining more comprehensive knowledge or understanding of the subject
under study, without specific applications in mind, while applied research is about developing
knowledge or understanding to meet a specific, recognized need. Today, there is increasing
overlap between these concepts.
As knowledge has become more complex, new disciplines and methodologies have added to
our understanding of the world and transformed the way in which new knowledge is actually
created. The emergence of new professions, greater emphasis on regional and community
engagement, and the recognition that the major grand challenges of humankind are not
bound by borders or discipline have been important drivers of change. As a consequence,
research is conducted through participation in bi-lateral, inter-regional and global networks.
Today, research is increasingly seen as a continuum of activity, along a spectrum of basic,
applied, knowledge transfer, commercialisation and innovation. Increasingly, good
researchers and universities operate across this spectrum, specialising in particular fields of
science, and translating their knowledge into new products and services. Thus, the guiding

principle nowadays is less the definition of types of research but excellence with respect to
the quality of research at all levels.
3.4 Human Resource Challenges
While universities are busy encouraging the formation of teams of researchers, there is no
getting away from the fact that research is ultimately dependent upon individuals. Institutions
or departments with high research activity and performance are generally populated by
individuals with intellectual curiosity and high career motivation, which are driven to
discover new ideas and actively participate in pushing out the boundaries of their discipline
and contribute to broader social-economic objectives.
There is little doubt that the transformation of research from an individual pursuit into an
academic enterprise has revolutionised the daily routine of faculty around the world. New
expectations about academic employment are influencing workload, tenure, salary, career and
promotion considerations, creating challenges for and anxiety amongst faculty. There are new
and growing pressures for more output, accountability, social relevance, collaboration and
research income. Critics use the term academic capitalism to describe an environment in
which faculty are required to spend an increasing portion of their time competing for research
projects and grants (Slaughter and Leslie, 1997, p9). Thus, regardless of whether it is a wellestablished internationally ranked university or a newly established one, growing research is
not without human costs.
3.5 Benchmarking and Assessment
The assessment of university-based research has become an essential element of the research
management process. This is due to two main factors: public demand for greater
accountability and return-on-investment linked to the importance attached to higher
educations role as an economic driver. As a result, research assessment exercises (RAE)
have become increasingly formalised over the past decades as a method of improving
research performance and quality. The UKs RAE, undertaken approximately every 5 years
since 1986, is based on institutional submissions in subject areas or units of assessment.
These are ranked by a subject specialist peer review panel, which are then used to inform
resource allocation unlike other systems, such as in the Netherlands, which focus on quality
assurance. The publication of results, often in the media, in a ranked order has produced a
league table which has played a considerable role in restructuring higher education systems
according to reputation and status. Today, national rankings exist in over 40 countries.
Cross-national comparison of research performance is an inevitable outcome of globalisation.
Because higher education performance is seen as vital to national competitiveness, global
rankings have emerged as a (perceived) gauge of world-class research. The Shanghai Jiao
Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) was first published in 2003. This
has been followed by Webometrics and Times QS World University Ranking in 2004, the
Taiwan Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for Research Universities in 2007
(HEEACT), and U.S. News & World Report's (USNWR) Worlds Best Colleges and

Universities in 2008. The EU has announced in 2008 its intention to launch a new multidimensional university ranking system with global outreach by 2010 (CHERPA).
Rankings appear to provide a simple method of assessing university-based research. They
compare universities using a range of different indicators, which are weighed differently
according to the objectives of each ranking system. Given the absence of reliable publiclyavailable internationally comparative data, global rankings rely heavily on traditional
research outputs as captured in the bibliometric and citations databases developed by either
Thompson-ISI or Elsevier-Scopus. Research productivity is measured by the number of
publications in peer-reviewed journals, and research excellence and impact is measured by
the number of citations. This approach benefits the physical, life and medical sciences
because they primarily publish in peer-reviewed journals and disadvantages engineering,
social sciences, humanities and arts disciplines which produce a wide range of research
outputs (Hazelkorn, 2009a; Adler and Anne-Wil Harzing, 2009).
To overcome these concerns, universities should develop good practice models which
combine metrics-based quantitative data with qualitative information, for example
information based on expert peer assessment or validation. While peer-reviewed journal
articles are the primary publication channel for practically all disciplines, assessment
methodologies should recognise important differences across research disciplines. In some
fields books (monographs) play a major role, while book chapters or conference proceedings
have a higher status in other fields. Increasingly government and the public are concerned
with value-for-money, and more attention is being placed on outcome, especially the social
and economic impact and benefit of university-based research. Indicators may include
employment of graduates, the number of companies established and employees hired,
changes to policy, legislation and regulatory regimes, reduction of waste and pollution or
improvements in health care (RQF, 2007). Some of these results are difficult to measure, but
their value, to paraphrase Einstein, derives from their ability to measure what counts rather
than that which can be easily measured.
4. Case Study: Implementing a Strategic Research Management at the Medical
University of Graz
4.1 Policy Context
In the year 2004 Austria experienced a major change in its legal framework of Universities.
As of January 2004 Austrian Universities became autonomous legal entities. Furthermore, the
three Medical Faculties were separated from their previous mother universities and became
independent Medical Universities.
Linked to the new legal context were substantial implications in terms of organizational
structure and staff. New governance approaches were introduced including global budgets,
performance agreements between the Ministry and each university as well as performance
agreements within the universities, development plans by each university, intellectual capital
reports, structured quality assurance and evaluation processes. As for the governance

structure, university councils were introduced in addition to newly defined senates and
rectorates with clear executive tasks.
4.2 Defining Research Strategy and Setting Targets
The Medical University of Graz is a medium sized Austrian university with app. 4300
students and some 40 organisational units including research institutes and clinical
departments. On the way to become this new Medical University the previous Medical
Faculty and the newly appointed Rectorate in the year 2003 prepared for the transition. Three
preparatory Strategy Projects were set up as a comprehensive process and implemented in
order to contribute to a structured transition. These Strategy Projects were built on major
goals, objectives, measures and indicators with respect to education, patient care and
research. Research and technological development were considered with an institutional,
national and European dimension. Furthermore, pro-active research management from an
institutional perspective was integrated right from the beginning. These Strategy Projects
formed the basis for the further development of the university.
4.3 Implementing an Institutional Strategic Research Management
The implementation of research management included systematic steps in the following
Research funding and support
Technology transfer and industry cooperation
International cooperation
Training in research management
Research documentation and quality assurance
In each field, the University established (a) staff structures offering basic services and (b)
specific strategic programmes to be implemented within the new structures.
Structures included specific service units for the main activity lines: a service unit for
research support (providing proactive pre- and post-award assistance), a service unit for tech
transfer and industry cooperation (support in pre-contract, negotiation and post-contract
phase as well as in patenting and licensing), a service unit for research documentation, and a
service unit for international research cooperation (responsible for support, coordination of
networking activities, internal funding programmes and new activities based on a specific
internationalization strategy).
Beyond these units, new structures included a Research Promotion Committee ensuring that
any internal funding is awarded in a transparent way and an Ombuds Committee for Quality
Assurance in Science serving as a contact point for questions relating to Good Scientific
Last but not least, in order to improve information transfer between centralized service units
and scientific units, at least one active scientist from each department was nominated to act as
research liaison or local research manager.

The strategic programmes were implemented to complement the support measures along the
main activity lines:
Activity Line
Research Funding/

Strategic Programme
Success bonus:
incentive programme to reward acquisition of peer-reviewed
Financial and administrative cost rate:
low FAC Rate for competitive EU-funding to incentivise
Fact-finding projects on women in science:
projects to analyze the situation of women in research and to
develop support measures

Technology transfer/
industry cooperation

Exploitation Guidelines
incentive programme to reward successful technology exploitation
Partnering Day for Biomedical Research:
networking event for researchers and companies
partnership in a thematically relevant regional cluster


Visiting Scientists Programme:

financial support for international research stays
Medical Research Initiative SEE:
project to initiate and support cooperation with Medical Faculties
in South Eastern Europe


Study module Research Management:

for advanced students interested in a research career

quality assurance

Quality Culture Project (EUA):

participation in the European University Associations Quality
Culture Project as a benchmarking exercise within an international

Both the service units and the strategic programmes were well appreciated. At institutional
and at individual level awareness and acceptance of the notion of strategic research
management grew significantly. Not only research itself but also the opportunities available
in research funding, international cooperation and technology transfer received a more

prominent position in the researchers range of vision and interest. Also, there was a
significant increase in almost all research-relevant indicators (e.g. publication output,
acquisition of externally funded projects).
4.4 Regional dimension and responsibility
The internationalization strategy of the Medical University of Graz includes a strong focus on
the region of South Eastern Europe. Neighborhood in geographical terms and long-standing
relations between researchers provided an excellent starting point for a more strategic and
systematic approach under the new Rectorate. On these grounds, a networking project was
submitted to the 6th EU Research Framework Programme and awarded in 2005, the Medical
Research Imitative South Eastern Europe (MedResIn SEE).
The initiative aimed at building up a sustainable network of medical research institutions in
the region, at strengthening interaction and co-operation, and by doing so, supporting efforts
towards their integration into the European Research Area. The idea of the initiative was to
train and assist interested researchers from the region to participate in the development of
joint EU research projects. Coordinated by the Medical University of Graz, the initiative was
designed and carried out by six partner institutions from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Italy and
Austria. In total, 360 researchers from 15 non-EU and EU-countries participated, eventually
several full proposals were submitted to the Framework Programme constituting for many
participants their first attempt in competitive EU-funding and their first step towards the
European Research Area.
4.5 Organizational implementation and Human Resource Challenges
The major driving force behind the implementation of the institutional strategic research
management approaches at the Medical University of Graz was the decision to set up a ViceRectorate for Research Management & International Cooperation. With the new Vice-Rector
appointed from outside the University a broad range of specific expertise in the fields of
research management was brought into the university. It was also clear that the team in this
Vice-Rectorate had to consist of hands-on experts in the relevant areas. Thus, each of these
experts had specific experiences from inside and outside the university including
backgrounds in industry and start-up companies.
As much as the Vice-Rector set up innovative processes, it was necessary to systematically
develop a structure including the organizational units of the university, which was achieved
by a new network of local research managers. Specifically nominated contact persons for all
issues of research management in each organizational unit, the local research managers
served as links to the Vice-Rectorate, thus receiving all relevant information and specific
In order to expand the awareness and information on research management issues towards
students, an entirely new study module was developed for advanced students interested in a
research career. This module included all elements of research management during a period
of 4 weeks and was received very well amongst students.
4.6 Challenges and Conclusions

Two years after implementation of the institutional research management at the Medical
University of Graz convincing results in quantitative terms (nr. of successful peer-reviewed
research projects, cooperation with industry, etc) were achieved.
In qualitative terms the following aspects also representing the major challenges in the
implementation process are important.
Sustainability of results was achieved in the sense that the measures implemented
combining strong services with a clear output incentive driven approach - raised a variety of
concerns in the beginning but ultimately broad interest for research, opportunities in research
funding, exploitation and international cooperation. Thus, substantial awareness towards the
necessity of a strategic research management was achieved, which had an impact on the
leadership level, researchers, students and further outside partners of the university.
Changes were initiated, most importantly changes in perspectives and perceptions reflected in
the individual interests towards the measures implemented and causing discussions about the
role, objectives and priorities of the new Medical University such as regarding research
versus clinical work. Furthermore, one of the clear changes was the motivation and selfconfidence that was mobilised amongst researchers at the University because they recognised
that they could rely on high-level, committed support by the research management team.
In terms of most important management results, the pro-active approach of the Rectorate
towards the new University Act and its opportunities, not primarily potential threats, was an
important stimulating mind-set. Having defined research management as priority reflected in
a specific Vice-Rectorate facilitated the support of the leadership level for the measures
implemented. The systematic combination of strategy and services and the consequence in
strategy orientation together with the interdisciplinary team in the Research Management
Vice-Rectorate were essential for the profile development of the University.
The most important lessons learned could be summarised by stating. Clear objectives and
strategies are important, but they also have to be broken down to concrete advantages for the
community concerned. The implementation needs careful preparation and discussion,
however it also needs a just do it mentality at operational and leadership level. Working on
the implementation with enthusiasm and conviction is inspiring and opens minds of people
involved, particularly if clarity of objectives and output orientation are put in the centre.
Finally, communication is important; at all levels, it is essential to involve people and inform
them about why and what is planned and done.

Challenges of Growing Research Capacity and Capability

5.1 Overview
Universities are now widely acknowledged as an integral part of the national innovation
system but their ability to develop a distinctive research strategy is shaped by a complex set
of factors, including: i) institutional history and mission, ii) the higher education system, the
role of individual universities within the system, the governance model and level of

autonomy, iii) the stage of economic development, national competitiveness and the strength
of regional economies, iv) socio-economic and demographic trends, and the dynamism of the
labour market, and v) political considerations and the value systems which underpin society,
public institutions and education. Globalisation has transformed research into an almost
gladiatorial pursuit of excellence; the concept of world class excellence has become a
strategic ambition of universities and nation states (Hazelkorn, 2009b; Altbach, 2003)
These developments have altered the way in which research is conducted, how it is funded,
and what is expected. One of the biggest changes and challenges has been the
transformation of research from an individual activity to an enterprise managed
professionally and pro-actively by the university. Simple distinctions between discipline
oriented (Mode 1) and problem solving (Mode 2) research have become blurred, and
researchers move along the research-innovation spectrum with ease. Complex global
problems require interdisciplinary, collaborative solutions and inter-locking innovation
systems. Curiosity-driven inquiry is still highly cherished but the focus of research managers,
government agencies, and funding organisations is on the translation of research findings into
new or improved products or processes activity now recognised as an intrinsic part of the
research process.
Emphasis on timely deliverables by a critical mass of researchers, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows requires an organisational structure which is flexible and responsive. While
the teaching-research nexus remains a core academic value, more and more research is
conducted in research centres or institutes outside the traditional teaching department
(Hazelkorn, 2005, 86-89). Competition for research funding and focus on excellence is
rapidly dividing faculty into categories of research-active and research-inactive, who are
often employed on different contracts. In place of the traditional collegial environment where
all faculty perceived themselves as peer-equals, the new competitive environment has
encouraged stratification along elite and reputation lines (Slaughter and Leslie, 1997, p117;
Marginson and Considine, 2000).
What strategic choices or organizational changes are universities making? What good
practice models are they developing in order to improve research performance and quality?
5.2 Models of good practice
Despite differences in origins and context, universities experience many of the same
challenges with respect to the complexities of research management and capacity building.
Many have found it necessary to strengthen their research capabilities, and [] have gone
about it in a variety of ways (Turpin et al., 1996), often contrary to government policy. Table
1 identifies key characteristics of successful research management strategies and practices.
There are eight thematic actions; 1-7 represent a determined effort to build research capacity,
increase performance and improve quality, while the number 8 focuses on leadership.
Securing adequate funding and investing in research is vital for success. This requires an
appropriate resource allocation model within the university, and a strategy for identifying
external funding opportunities and being successful. In many cases, universities are

deliberately aligning their resource allocation model towards active researchers with strong
track records, albeit a counter-intuitive strategy might involve helping newer researchers and
those disciplines which have less opportunity for large-scale funding, or encouraging
potential new areas of investigation.
The Research Office is a critical resource, providing essential support in the pre-submission
and post-submission stage. Because few universities can be excellent in every discipline in
which they teach, priority setting is vital albeit contentious. The process of identifying
research strengths should be underpinned by a research assessment exercise which maps
performance and quality against, inter alia, institutional and national priorities.
In this environment, the lone scholar is becoming rare. Rather, research is best organized into
designated centres or institutes, which bring together a critical mass of cognate researchers.
Not only do research centres facilitate research being clustered to aid sustainability and
generate national/international recognition and visibility, but they can often better facilitate
interdisciplinary work which would otherwise be inhibited by the constraints of traditional
academic discipline departments. Universities should be encouraged to assess research
performance regularly, by benchmarking themselves against a group of appropriate peer
institutions worldwide. In addition to measuring research performance, its inputs, outputs and
outcomes, the RAE should consider the various links that exist between research and other
activities, especially teaching and community engagement.
Higher education operates increasingly in both a national and global context. Indeed,
worldwide comparisons especially for research will become increasingly significant in the
future as the single global market (Marginson, 2006, p1) consolidates. In this framework,
global networks are becoming more important, as the basis for research collaboration, student
exchanges, professional training, and joint programmes. The lesson of Mode 2 is that
strategic alliances outside the academy are vital; this means forming innovative relationships
with municipal authorities, business and community organisations. In a growing number of
countries and regions, higher education has formed partnerships in the realization that
successful cities and mega-regions are focal points of innovation and creativity (OKC,
2009; OECD, 2007; Hazelkorn, 2010).
Ultimately, research management is about leadership from the Vice-Chancellor or President
and the Board of Governors. The message should be clear and unambiguous. The lack of
clear leadership, and institutional coherence, can be an inhibiting factor.


Table 1
Good Practice Initiatives to Develop Research Capacity




Investment strategy, and realign budgets to

support active researchers and world-class


Establish Appropriate
Organisational Structures

Establish a Research Office to provide a

professional research management support
service, including technology transfer, and
provide appropriate research facilities.


Limited Number of Research


Identify priority research fields based on critical

mass and excellence which can compete
successfully albeit ensure that new researchers
and new fields of inquiry are also supported.


Research Clusters and Centres

Encourage the growth of research teams, capable

of winning competitive funding and being


Align Funding, Recruitment, etc.

to Research Priorities

Ensure that organisational priorities and decisions

reflect and support priorities.


Apply Performance Indicators

Assess and benchmark research performance

according to international standards and quality
regularly, and use the results to help shape
priorities, funding mechanisms, recruitment, etc.


Form Strategic Alliances with

Other Universities or Industrial

Form or join networks of appropriate peer

universities, key industrial and civic/government



Endorsement of research strategy by senior

management and boards of trustees

Source: Adapted from Hazelkorn, 2005, p126.

Today, governments and universities are thinking much more strategically about research
because knowledge is recognised as the prime source of economic, political and social
development and power. It is intrinsically linked with the geo-political positioning of nations
and institutions. The mission to growing research capacity and capability is no longer
discretionary. In response to these pressures, universities are (re)examining their mission,
strategies and organisation. They are forced to make difficult choices. Tough questions are
being asked of all universities.

Adler, Nancy J. and Anne-Wil Harzing (2009) When Knowledge Wins: Transcending the
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The term university means all higher education institutions, irrespective of their name and
status in national law.