Does your company have an R&D department? If so, I want you to take a minute to think about the employees in this department and try to guess how many of them have experience with academic research at the doctoral or post-doctoral level…
Unless your company focuses on higher learning, medicine or another industry that requires doctorate level education, I bet very few of you could identify a member of the team with such a background.
There is a clear gap between academia and business.
This is a serious problem and we’re going to tell you why. But first, a brief overview on the arguments that help keep academics and real-world activity at a distance.
A commonly cited reason is that university professors lack real-world experience and are out-of-touch with the language, problems and concerns of business world employees (Rudolph & Peluchette, 1992). Even though academics are often referred to as “experts” in their domain of study, this expertise is claimed to be achieved in an observational, research-based way, rather than gaining hands-on experience which is more relevant to everyday life.
“The outcome is that this so-called expertise does not meld with what is actually going on in the world.” – T. Tse & M. Esposito, The Financial Times, 2017
Another existing problem in this debate is that businesses prefer to approach consultants rather than academics (Kilmann, Slevein, & Jerrell, 1983) because of the perception that consultants simplify complex organizational issues of the real world (Brannick and Coghlan, 2006) while academic scholars complexify them as they attempt to consider all the possible factors (Panda & Gupta, 2014).
There is also the issue of language. In the business world, people look for straight-forward answers that are outlined in simple terms, while researchers tend to use highly technical jargon that is often more confusing than clarifying for the average person.
So, because of these arguments, among others, people seem to think that…
“There’s a disconnect between academic research and industry research, the two don’t fit together well. Lack of experience is the problem. You can get all the way to a Ph.D. and then realize you don’t have marketable experience.” – Kevin Foley
What a shame that, although this issue is known and has been thoroughly addressed, the solutions proposed have led to no significant change. If they had, this problem would no longer exist, right?
Well, back when Sciago was still just an idea, we asked ourselves two important questions related to this topic:
- Why has this problem yet to be solved?
- How can we solve it?
And here’s what we came up with:
People outside of academia don’t interpret this separation as an issue. But, this is a problem. Because not only do academics hold experience, they also hold valuable technical and theoretical understandings of the world that are extremely important to consider as your business evolves. At Sciago, we recognized this and found a simple solution.
With our online toolkit, Sciago wants to help close this gap by creating partnerships between your business and academic researchers, without you having to do much at all. You come to Sciago with a problem dealing with sustainability, new technology or usage related issues, we select a team of experts specialized in your field, and they do the problem solving for you. Easy as that.
Worried about getting confused by abstract terminology? Don’t be! Sciago serves as a translator between both worlds, as we bridge the gap between the two by understanding the languages of both sides. We do this by collaborating with business professionals to provide our researchers with special training programs that equip them with the right skills and terminology for entering the business world.
Furthermore, promoting practice-oriented research, we employ researchers who take their academic background as well as their Sciago business training and who apply these skills to the practical needs of businesses.
This partnership is mutually beneficial. On the one hand, businesses benefit from the knowledge of expert researchers, and, on the other, researchers benefit from enhancing their practical skills. It’s a win-win situation!
At Sciago, we believe the key to closing the gap between academia and business is to ensure successful collaboration between academic researchers and businesses as they develop groundbreaking and ambitious solutions.
In this way, we hope to create a bright urban future for everyone.
Article by Danya Kiernan, Sciago Funding Coordinator
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Brannick, D. Coghlan, 2006, To know and to do: academics’ and practitioners’ approaches to management research, Irish Journal of Management, 26:2, pp. 1-22
H.R. Rudolph, J.V. Peluchette, 1992, Significance of usefulness: a congruency model of relevant research criteria, Journal of Applied Business Research, 8:3, pp. 83-91
Kilmann, D. Slevin, L.S. Jerrell, 1983, The problem of producing useful knowledge, R. Kilmann, K. Thomas, D. Slevin, R. Nath, S. Jerrell (Eds.), Producing useful knowledge for organizations, Preager Publishers, New York, pp. 1-24
Panda, Abinash, Rajen K.Gupta , 2014, Making academic research more relevant: A few suggestions, IIMB Management Review, 26:3, pp. 156-169