Chapter 17: Between rhetoric and reality: university reporting on academic research commercialization, entrepreneurship and innovation
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An increasing number of contemporary national university systems have performance-based governance systems where universities are held accountable by public sector funding bodies and government stakeholders. These public ‘accountability regimes’ differ in terms of governance arrangements: from government-controlled regulatory systems to self-governing ‘internal’ academic practices. Nowadays such regimes may go beyond the two traditional missions of universities (education and research). This chapter sheds light on intricate relationships between accountability regimes and how universities report on their ‘academic research commercialization, entrepreneurship and innovation’ (ARCEI).After introducing a conceptual and analytical framework to assess ARCEI accountability regimes within and across national university systems, an empirical analysis of public reporting practices by university associations introduces a global overview of ARCEI-related mission statements. Moving from the domain of PR-driven ‘rhetoric’ by those university associations to the academic ‘reality’ of individual universities, further web-based information is presented on their ARCEI activities and outputs, which can be used a ‘soft indicator’ of accountability compliance. The illustrative case study deals with two European countries that are subjected to quite distinct accountability regimes: the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The results illustrate the impact of those regimes on the choice of ARCEI performance indicators. The subtle effects of world university rankings on reporting practices are also highlighted.

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