Academic journal article Advances in Management

Different Styles for Different Situations - Case Study of Problems and Prospects of Inter-Institutional Collaboration in an Agricultural Innovation Project

Academic journal article Advances in Management

Different Styles for Different Situations - Case Study of Problems and Prospects of Inter-Institutional Collaboration in an Agricultural Innovation Project

Article excerpt

Introduction

Research in science is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary and researchers and research managers are relying more and more on multi-institutional collaborations to develop quality research leading to innovation. Scientific collaboration1 has the potential to solve complex scientific problem, help extend the scope of a research project and foster innovation because additional expertise is made available (http://www.eua.be/eua/jsp/en/upload/lambert_re view_final_450.1151581102387.pdf;http://netvis.fuqua.du ke.edu/papers/NSF_KDI_report.pdf).

Collaboration has, thus, become a hallmark of research. Research suggests that task demands, available resources, group interaction, the degree of functional dependence among scientists and the degree of strategic dependence determine how tasks are allocated and shared among scientists in collaboration.10,12 Scientists who collaborate may normally bring additional, individual goals in collaboration/ Notwithstanding these facts, interinstitutional collaborations bring along with it certain difficulties in terms of effective understanding and management of participating institutions under the collaborative model (http://www.cspo.org/rvm/publications /pubs_docs/Corley_Et_Al_2006.pdf).

Collaboration is defined as8 "an active working partnership supported by some kind of institutional commitment" based on formal agreement between two or more organizations. Scientific collaboration is also defined as human behaviour among two or more scientists that facilitates the sharing of meaning and completion of tasks with respect to a mutually-shared superordinate goal and which takes place in social contexts (http://philoscience. unibe.ch/documents/ physics/Sonnenwald2007/Sonnenwald2007.pdf). Interinstitutional research collaboration is defined as (http://www.cspo.org/rvm/publications/pubs_docs/OEINT _9_6_03_Final.pdf) "cooperative arrangements among the producers of scientific and technical knowledge, research managers, the priority or privileged users of the knowledge and those providing funding and other support for the joint activity". Collaboration is however different from research partnership which is defined as "cooperative arrangements engaging companies, universities and government agencies and laboratories in various combinations to pool resources in pursuit of a shared R and D objective".5

Any collaboration passes through four stages as indicated in the figure 1 below (http://philoscience.unibe.ch/docu ments/physics/Sonnenwald2007/Sonnenwald2007.pdf) viz. foundation stage, formulation stage, sustainment stage and conclusion stage. Each stage is important, is sequential and is characterized by a few factors. Scientific collaboration is a dynamic process and many challenges may become inherent during different stages of collaboration. Individuals and organizations attempting scientific collaboration need to take into account the characteristics and factors that are associated with each stage and the likely problems that might develop at different stages.

Foundation stage: This stage focuses on factors that are essential for collaboration to be considered and initiated. There could be many factors that provide the foundation for collaboration, some of which would include the following: to discover new knowledge; need to solve complex scientific problem in a given time; to foster innovation; to make use of additional expertise available with other institutions; to access and use equipment facility available with other institutions which are costly and which cannot be purchased and kept by every institute; to gain access to large amounts of funding and to enhance the credibility and acceptance of the output in the scientific community. Collaboration becomes a necessary evil since, often, the scientists/institutions collaborating would not be able to sustain the reasons for which collaboration was initiated and problems crop up during the other stages.

Formulation stage: This is the stage where the collaborating scientists develop plan of work and assign roles and responsibilities for various persons collaborating in the project. …

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