INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT, vol.24, no.2, pp.101-123, 2022 (ESCI)
Purpose The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between the participation in commercially- and socially-oriented Academics' Societal Engagement (ASE) activities, partnership choices, and funding preferences of academics working in public and private universities from Chile and Turkey. Chile represents a private-dominant higher education system (HES), while Turkey is public-dominant. This article presents the results of an international survey, the Academic Profession in Knowledge-based Society (APIKS), applied to academics from over 20 countries, including Chile and Turkey. Design/methodology/approach Through a quantitative analysis the authors analyse how the dominant institutional type influences ASE activities, partnership choices, and funding preferences. Findings Results from the analysis show that being part of a public or private university does not solely explain the activity type that academics engage with. Moreover, the rate of Chilean academics participating in ASE activities is more than twice that of Turkish academics regardless of the public-private distinction. Research limitations/implications Further research about the academic life and ASE activities using a qualitative approach can complement this study. Applying further in-depth interviews to obtain more information from external partners can provide different perspectives and help to better understand the ASE activities. Additional analysis could compare external activities by higher education institution (HEI) type regarding vocational/technical centres since the Chilean and Turkish private HEIs included in this study received a mix of public-private funds and are considered not-for-profit, so extending this research to include for-profit private HEIs may be worthwhile for additional comparison. Practical implications More support and funding for the development of commercially-oriented ASE activities is recommended for Chile and Turkey's HES. In Turkey, a law-update in 2017 facilitates the establishment of technology transfer offices (TTOs) as companies within universities (Author, 2019). Though it is too early to know its effects, a positive contribution is anticipated. Centred Chile's private dominant HES, it would be appropriate for this type of system to also create different support structures to incentivise socially-oriented external activities and partnership opportunities. As done in other universities, the establishment of a community engagement office may provide professional guidance for partnership creations. Regardless of a country's HE public/private dominance, diverse sources of funding and support mechanisms can also be created to strengthen organisational and financial autonomy facilitating academics' participation in ASE activities. For example, universities can develop institutional policies to support academic establishment, lead or join in administration of non-governmental organisations, or form institutional media to deliver academics' viewpoints of social issues to the larger and non-academic audience. University managers should also empower the connection between academics and industry and business sector through different organisational structures such as Research Office, Science Park Incubators, Career Centre, while guiding and financially supporting academics' research commercialisation by their TTO experience and sources. Originality/value The literature has studied the public-private higher education distinction in vast aspects, however, no empirical studies have explored it concerning ASE.