Microfoundations of Academics' Networks: Initiation, Evolution and Context

Ahoba-Sam, Rhoda (2020) Microfoundations of Academics' Networks: Initiation, Evolution and Context. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln, UK.

Microfoundations of Academics' Networks: Initiation, Evolution and Context
PhD thesis
__network.uni_staff_S3_rahobasam_RDS_Desktop_Final D 13.05.20_PhD Thesis_Ahoba-Sam Rhoda_Business and Management_January 2021.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


The world over, universities are increasingly challenged to make economic contributions to their host cities. Universities are particularly the target of this challenge because of the belief that knowledge intensive institutions are critical to the building of a knowledge-based economy and thus increasing regional competitiveness. Subsequently, the weight placed on universities has resulted in a stretch in universities’ traditional missions of research and teaching to include a third mission. This so-called third mission is operationalised in universities’ engagement with their communities as characterised by collaborations with industry partners, among others. It is understood that by establishing close ties with industry for instance, both entities could together improve the fortunes of their communities through problem solving and creativity that contribute to innovation. Simply, University-Industry Collaborations (UICs) play a key in the regional innovation process.
This thesis takes a determined stance. Where collaborations between universities and industry is concerned, individuals are the critical conduits for the process of knowledge exchange. Additionally, knowledge collaborations are embedded within networks stemming from both university and industry entities. Indeed, individuals who are critical to the competiveness of their regions do not act in isolation – they network. Interestingly however, existing research on UICs is mainly focused on the organisational level. Also, while networking forms a critical aspect of the theories on regional innovation, networks are rarely the focus in studies on regional innovation. To that effect, this thesis focuses on the networks of individuals especially in university and industry collaborations.
The interest of this work is to explore foundational aspects of networks by placing the spotlight on individual academic scientists and their network ties. Consequently, the aim of this thesis is to investigate how individual contacts of a given academic could shape his knowledge exchange network. To achieve this aim, the study assumes a tripartite nature in which I explore the initiation, evolution and context of academics’ networks. The analysis presented in this work draws upon 100 semi-structured interviews with academic scientists and other relevant stakeholders in the knowledge exchange process where an attempt is made to obtain insight into networking as embedded in academic engagement.
Overall, this thesis has yielded insight into i) how the personal networks of individual academics are built, especially from a geographic perspective where motivations are linked to regional and extra-regional incentives; ii) how the networks of individual academic scientists evolve over time and what factors influence this process and, iii) not least, the effect of the institutional and regional contexts on knowledge exchange processes as exemplified in academics’ networks. The insights emerging from this thesis have interesting implications for policy making.

Keywords:Academic scientists, Regional context, Institutional context, Network building, Network evolution
Subjects:L Social studies > L721 Economic Geography
L Social studies > L250 International Relations
N Business and Administrative studies > N100 Business studies
L Social studies > L700 Human and Social Geography
X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
N Business and Administrative studies > N200 Management studies
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:44721
Deposited On:30 Apr 2021 09:34

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