This paper presents coping mechanisms that address competing institutional logics in University-Business Co-operation (UBC). We examined academics at two Indonesian universities and in two science fields, computer science and electrical engineering. Our findings suggest that the level of the integration of business and science logic determines their coping strategies. Academics can act as a hybrid who bridges the two worlds by “compartmentalizing” them. This study infers that inexperienced academics must “learn” in advance about the logic of business before involving themselves in collaboration with business projects.
Building a partnership with business communities has become a challenging task for universities worldwide (Etzkowitz, 1998; Siegel et al., 2001; Sauermann and Stephan, 2013). Many initiatives have aimed to investigate the inter-organizational issues, specifically with respect to how members of both types of organizations overcome the conflict of two institutional spheres, that is, between science and business practices (Cyert and Goodman, 1997; Elmuti et al., 2005; Jones, 2009; Bjerregaard, 2009; Lind et al., 2013). For instance, continuous learning and restructuring processes on both sides are the essential factors needed to narrow the chasm of cultures and norms between academic researchers and business professionals (Elmuti et al., 2005). Similarly, Bjerregaard (2010) suggests that both academic scientists and industrial researchers should use their (social) skills purposively to bridge these institutional gaps. Based on these studies, examining the attitudes of academics dealing with these institutional demands is become crucial. This is due to that individual academics have been exposed with new societal pressures such as new public management in the science system, in general, and in the higher education, in particular (Ferlie et al., 2009). Such new policy relates to the attempt to increase the role of science in industries (Hoarau and Kline, 2014) and relates to the significant impact of industry fund that increases the number of academics to work with business (Bozeman and Gaughan, 2007). Moreover, academics will be exposed by two cultures and norms, science and business, as universities worldwide have endeavoured to ‘valorise’ and ‘transfer’ research to industrial applications (e.g., Mitev and Venters, 2009) of which scholars often label this as research commercialization (e.g., Lam, 2011). Academics may find this problematic because these values and practices are contradictory and divergent to each other (Jones, 2009; Bjerregaard, 2009; Evans, 2010; Murray, 2010). To successfully participate in UBC, individual academics should create hybridity in these (two) contradictive logics (Murray, 2010) which imply that they should able to diminish this institutional barrier (Bjerregaard,2010). Additionally, the “Mode 2” of research may vary across scientific fields (Whitley, 2000) suggesting academics in different field may react differently for UBC. UBC is a framework that represents a complex interaction among institutions – between science and business, organizations – between universities and firms, and among individuals – between academics and business professionals. Out of many variations for discussing the interrelationships among these entities, the discourse on the role of individuals in the transformation of organizations and institutions is among those variations that have received less attention from institutional scholars (Thornton et al., 2012; Pache and Santos, 2013). For example, Lee and Lounsbury (2015) emphasize the importance of organizational actors in which they can shape the organizational responses toward institutional complexity, both directly and indirectly. These authors suggest that organizational actors may indirectly respond to the first order of logics or field-level of logics e.g. state and market logic. Instead organizational actors may directly respond to the second order of the logics named community logics such as political conservative and pro-environmental.