Innovation: Organization & Management Now Welcoming Submissions for a Special Issue

The Knowledge Economy, Innovation and the New Challenges to Universities


Universities are currently experiencing two fundamental and related challenges, which also influence innovation in society. Traditionally having been loosely coupled organizations that were characterized by a high degree of professorial self-governance, universities increasingly pursue organization-level strategies. Internal professional management and the systematic use of performance indicators have gained importance, sometimes at the expense of professorial self-governance (Musselin, 2013). At the same time, as important players in the knowledge economy universities have taken on – or been forced to accept – new missions and objectives. Notably, this includes expectations to contribute to technological innovation, societal impact and regional development (Geuna & Muscio, 2009).

The purpose of this special issue is to study innovation in relation to how changing relationships to external stakeholders lead to organizational change within universities, and how organizational change in universities affects their roles in the knowledge economy. We especially welcome papers addressing three important topics within this area.

The first of these topics concerns governance of universities on the basis of multi-dimensional performance criteria, and especially societal impact, when faced with a complex array of expectations from stakeholders. These expectations are most concretely manifested in reforms seeking to increase the performance along one or several dimensions of quality. For example, elements of nation-wide competition for the allocation of research funding between universities (Hicks, 2012) and schemes to promote technology transfer from universities (Thursby & Thursby, 2011; von Proff et al., 2012) have spread in a large number of countries. More extreme forms of economic incentives where individual academics receive indirect and direct cash bonuses for successful publication activities have gained in popularity (Franzoni et al., 2011). We welcome studies investigating how governance affects job attractiveness and job mobility of research-trained personnel (Sauermann & Stephan, 2013). We also welcome papers that examine and explain the relationship between quality as conceived within academic communities and quality as conceived by external stakeholders in national and regional governments, industry, as well as private donors and prospective students.

A second issue is to identify and analyze tensions between academic autonomy and higher level decisions such as strategy and planning in the context of higher education institutions. It has been argued that universities need to develop greater organizational strategic abilities in order to e.g. build stronger relationship to external stakeholders, harness the potential for research commercialization and secure their long-term funding base (Guerrero et al., 2016). Such reforms, however, seem to implicate that universities become more similar to other organizations, in the sense that they have adopt features of formalized manageralistic decision-making (Krücken & Meier, 2006; Deem et al., 2007). We welcome papers that unpack the relationships between universities’ strategic actions and their ability to uphold old and develop new forms of societal interaction (McKelvey & Holmén, 2009).

A third issue of interest to the special issue involves analyzing knowledge communities and networks in relation to individual, organizational and national institutional structures. What actors are benefitting from university activities, and through what mechanisms are such benefits channeled? Key themes include the supply and demand of academic engagement (Perkmann et al., 2013), and how motives (Broström, 2012) and barriers (Bruneel et al., 2010) to exchange involving universities vary over time, across institutional environments and between sectoral innovation systems (Malerba, 2006). We welcome a variety of papers from different theoretical traditions on these topics.

The special issue will bring together articles which discuss, debate and show state-of-the-art work on the above topics. We welcome a range of submissions including contributions of conceptual nature as well as empirical studies drawing on quantitative or case-study analysis, and from a variety of relevant theoretical perspectives.

Process and Timing

Submissions due 15 April 2018.

Publication is expected towards end of 2019 to early 2020.


Bruneel, J., d’Este, P., & Salter, A. 2010. Investigating the factors that diminish the barriers to university–industry collaboration. Research Policy 39(7), 858-868.

Broström, A. 2012. Firms' Rationales for Interaction with Research Universities. Journal of Technology Transfer 37(3), 313-329.

Deem, R., Hillyard, S., & Reed, M., 2007. Knowledge, higher education, and the new managerialism: The changing management of UK universities. Oxford University Press.

Franzoni, C., Scellato, G., & Stephan, P., 2011. Changing incentives to publish. Science 333, 702-703.

Geuna, A., & Muscio, A. 2009. The governance of university knowledge transfer: A critical review of the literature. Minerva 47(1), 93-114.

Guerrero, M., Urbano, D., Fayolle, A., Klofsten, M., & Mian, S. 2016. Entrepreneurial universities: emerging models in the new social and economic landscape. Small Business Economics 47(3), 551-563.

Hicks, D., 2012. Performance-based university research funding systems. Research Policy 41, 251–261.

Krücken, G., & Meier, F. 2006. Turning the university into an organizational actor. Globalization and organization: World society and organizational change, 241-257.

McKelvey, M. & Holmén, H. 2009. Learning to Compete in European Universities: From Social Institution to Knowledge Business. Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar Publishers.

Musselin, C. 2013. Redefinition of the relationships between academics and their university. Higher Education 65(1), 25-37.

Malerba, F., 2006. ”Sectoral systems: How and why innovation differs across sectors.” In J. Fagerberg, D. Mowery and R. Nelson (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Innovation, pp. 380- 406, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Perkmann, M., Tartari, V., McKelvey, M., Autio, E., Broström, A., D’Este, P., Fini, R., Geuna, A., Grimaldi, R., Hughes, A., Krabel, S., Kitson, M., Llerena, P., Lissoni, F., Salter, A., & Sobrero, M. (2013). Academic engagement and commercialisation: A review of the literature on university–industry relations. Research Policy 42(2), 423-442.

Sauermann, H., & Stephan, P. 2013. Conflicting logics? A multidimensional view of industrial and academic science. Organization Science, 24(3), 889-909.

Thursby, J. G., & Thursby, M. C. 2011. Has the Bayh-Dole act compromised basic research?. Research Policy 40(8), 1077-1083.

Von Proff, S., Buenstorf, G., & Hummel, M. (2012). University patenting in Germany before and after 2002: what role did the professors' privilege play?. Industry and Innovation, 19(1), 23-44.

Editorial information

  • Guest Editor: Maureen McKelvey
  • Guest Editor: Guido Buenstorf
  • Guest Editor: Anders Broström