Research Handbook on Quality, Performance and Accountability in Higher Education
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Research Handbook on Quality, Performance and Accountability in Higher Education

Edited by Ellen Hazelkorn, Hamish Coates and Alexander C. McCormick

As higher education becomes a key determinant for economic competitiveness, institutions face increasing pressure to demonstrate their fitness to meet the needs of society and individuals. Blending innovative research with richly contextualised examples this unique Research Handbook provides authoritative insights from around the globe on how best to understand, assess and improve quality, performance and accountability in higher education.
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Chapter 17: Between rhetoric and reality: university reporting on academic research commercialization, entrepreneurship and innovation

Robert J.W. Tijssen

Abstract

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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