University Missions: Compatible and Complementary? Theory and Empirical Anlysis Through Indicators

11/04/2013 to 12/04/2013
5th European Conference on Intellectual Capital
Over the last years HEIs acquired a new role in the promotion and support of regional economic development. As a consequence, and to facilitate this process, the modernization of universities ranks high in the European policy agenda. Part of this redefinition of universities roles is based on the “three mission” heuristic, namely that HEIs’ contribution to economic and social development
is carried out by engaging (1) teaching (2) research (3) interaction with socio‐ economic environment. The traditional view does not explain in detail if and how the three missions are related to one another, and that the growth of one is implicitly suggests the beneficial for the others. The present paper challenges this perspective and takes the view that university missions are constructs connected by complex relationships. In so doing, we make two contributions to the literature: first we explore the connection between the theoretical rationale of university missions, and second we assess the complementarity among missions. Our
empirical study on Spanish public universities corroborates this hypothesis by finding complementarity between research (2nd mission) and interaction with the socio‐economic environment (3rd mission), and substitutability between the former and teaching (1st mission). The paper calls for a critical reflection of university engagements with the missions: rethinking whether all higher education institutions should be simultaneously developing all three missions may be vital to ensuring their contribution to the socio‐economic development of regions.
Sánchez-Barrioluengo, M.