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Articles on University-Industry Relationships by Leland L. Glenna, Rick Welsh, William B. Lacy and Dina Biscotti

Leland L. Glenna of Pennsylvania State University and Rick Welsh of Clarkson University co-authored two articles with William B. Lacy and Dina Biscotti. “Industry Perceptions of University-Industry Relationships Related to Agricultural Biotechnology Research” was published in the December 2007 issue of Rural Sociology. “University Administrators, Agricultural Biotechnology, and Academic Capitalism: Defining the Public Good to Promote University-Industry Relationships” was published in the Winter 2007 issue of The Sociological Quarterly; this paper was awarded Pennsylvania State University's Roy C. Buck Faculty Award.

Both of these articles analyze data from a multi-institution, interdisciplinary research project, “Public Goods and University-Industry Relationships in Agricultural Biotechnology,” funded under the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems Program of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. The project website is: http://www.agri-biotech.pdx.edu.

Glenna, Leland L., Rick Welsh, William B. Lacy and Dina Biscotti. 2007. “Industry Perceptions of University-Industry Relationships Related to Agricultural Biotechnology Research.” Rural Sociology. 72:608-631.

Abstract: Following a rise in university-industry relationships (UIRs), scholars began questioning the efficacy of those relationships, as well as whether industry and university research interests and integrity are being compromised. Although many of these studies focus on the university, few examine the perspectives of industry participants. We conducted intensive interviews with 63 managers and scientists at agricultural biotechnology companies involved in UIRs related to agricultural biotechnology. Our analysis of their comments reveals nuanced critical perspectives of UIRs and creative ideas for reforming policies and practices. Industry representatives listed many advantages of UIRs, but some also expressed an interest in reforming policies to preserve a public-interest emphasis for university research. We conclude by considering the structural relationships that may explain the industry representatives' critical evaluations and by identifying policy implications.

Glenna, Leland L., William B. Lacy, Rick Welsh and Dina Biscotti. 2007. “University Administrators, Agricultural Biotechnology, and Academic Capitalism: Defining the Public Good to Promote University-Industry Relationships.” The Sociological Quarterly. 48:141-163.

Abstract: The theory of academic capitalism explains how federal, state, and university policies and people have expanded university–industry relationships (UIRs) and the commercialization of knowledge. These changes represent a profound shift in the way university research is expected to contribute to the public good. Because university administrators are responsible for creating organizational policies and infrastructures that are consistent with their organizational mission and with federal and state laws, it is critical to analyze how university administrators assess UIRs in relation to public interest scientific research. Our in-depth interviews at six prominent land-grant universities with 59 key administrators having oversight responsibilities for agricultural biotechnology research programs and UIRs reveal how administrators justify their role in promoting UIRs. They tend to interpret their university’s mission to contribute to the public good in a way that is conducive to encouraging UIRs and to commercializing research discoveries. Their rationale emerges within a context of having to justify their budgets to state governments.

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