How scientists maintain the lead in a commercialization project
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CitationPalo-oja, Outi-Maaria. Eriksson, Päivi. (2019). How scientists maintain the lead in a commercialization project. Ethics and Responsibility in Human Resources, Leadership and Start-up Business, 316-325.
This study focuses on commercialization of knowledge in universities, which refers to activities such as university-industry collaboration, patenting, licensing, and establishing university spin-off companies. The case used for this study illustrates how scientists, industry and innovation experts, funders, and intermediating organizations talk about commercialization in project meetings. The study extends the concept of commercialization of knowledge and argues that, in face-to-face interaction such as meetings, power relations play an important role in making sense of what ‘commercialization’ means and how it can be carried out in universities. The study is based on empirical data (observation, documents) gathered from a two-year commercialization project, and it explores how the members of the project steering group gave and made sense of commercialization in meetings where the challenges and opportunities concerning the project were discussed. The Critical Sensemaking heuristic and mixed analytical methods were used to analyse power relations in these meetings. The findings illustrate how scientists remained in key positions to guide the sense of commercialization during the two-year project. They used both structural power that was integrated in the project rules and socially agreed power that was based on scientific knowledge. The main contribution of the study lies in demonstrating how the study of commercialization as a social process offers a new avenue to understand non-academic activities such as commercialization at universities.