Towards the Third Generation University
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Towards the Third Generation University

Managing the University in Transition

J. G. Wissema

Universities are undergoing massive change, evolving from science-based, government-funded institutions into ‘international know-how hubs’ dubbed third generation universities, or 3GUs. J.G. Wissema explores this dramatic change, tracing the historic development of universities, and exploring the technology-based enterprises, technostarters and financiers for start-ups and young enterprises that are the main partners of these 3GUs. He goes on to illustrate that universities play a new role as incubators of new science or technology based commercial activities and take an active role in the exploitation of the knowledge they create. The book concludes with suggestions regarding the way in which changes in the university’s mission should be reflected in subsequent organisational changes.
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Chapter 7: Organisational Structure and Management Style

J. G. Wissema


7.1 ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE Let us start our discussion on the management of the third generation university (3GU) by looking at its organisational structure. Traditionally, the activities of a university are carried out by faculties that address a certain scientific discipline, according to Aristotelian logic and its expansions. We saw however that most research nowadays is multidisciplinary or even transdisciplinary, whereby the research and development (R&D) activities are focused on subjects that involve scientists, engineers and designers of several disciplines. The teams that carry out transdisciplinary research organise themselves in cross-faculty teams, that is, teams consisting of members from different faculties and often from different universities and increasingly including non-university members too. This creates a matrix structure: the team members belong to the faculty, but work in the team that is an entity on its own with its own source of income (Figure 7.1). Matrix structures in general signal a transitional phase as the new structure has not yet created enough confidence to replace the old, while the old structure, or rather its leaders, still fight for their survival. A matrix structure is unstable because it is based on conflicting principles, in this case discipline-based versus subject-based research and education. This often results in conflicts that take a disproportionate amount of time to resolve and that take energy away from the job to be done. There is a trend now for cross-faculty teams to acquire a status of their own and this may show...

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