The Socially Engaged University: The Complexities of Business Relations Under the New Political Paradigm

  • Olav Jull SørensenEmail author


This chapter discusses the problem-based learning model from the perspective of (business) employers. The core issue is how well universities serve the needs and demands of business employers for employable experts/managers and new science-based knowledge. The discussion aligns with the political agenda regarding the third mission of universities, that is, their contribution to societal development. The chapter outlines the nature of what is called the “socially engaged university,” focusing on the synergy between research-generated/science-based knowledge and practical/experiential knowledge. It discusses three groups of collaborative problems and tensions, namely, (a) problems of information, communication and visibility, (b) incompatible organizational structures, and (c) basic conflicts in roles, values, and orientations. It emerges that the dominant mode governing collaboration between firms and universities is that of strategic alliances, and it is well known that such alliances present the potential for synergy as well as for tension and outright conflict. Hence, special efforts are needed to unfold the potential synergy resulting from the collaboration. Finally, a case is presented to illustrate the multiple interfaces between universities and firms and how, as a way forward, collaboration between firms and universities may be institutionalized.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

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