Enterprise: the academic's challenge
The role of academic staff in Higher Education is complex and ever changing. The notion of the 'entrepreneurial university', a move towards diversifying a university's funding base has been instrumental in the transformation of this role. Role expectations are often confused by the interchangeable use of the terms 'enterprise', 'third mission' and 'innovation and engagement'. This can be compounded by a limited understanding of social enterprise and resistance to commercialising knowledge. This study is concerned with a critical exploration of engagement with enterprise in the Cardiff School of Education and was undertaken between 2009-2013 at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
A case study approach was adopted using quantitative and qualitative methods for data collection. All sixty-three academic staff were invited to complete an on-line questionnaire that was provided in English and Welsh and forty-five responses were collated. Twenty-four staff were interviewed gathering viewpoints of academic staff, support staff, managers and senior managers.
Results showed that the longer academic staff were employed at the university, the more likely they were to engage with enterprise. That is, there was an increasing awareness of the contribution of the skills of the entrepreneur to the University's strategic imperatives. Staff had a narrow understanding of enterprise, primarily focussing on income generation. Project managers, whilst supported in their role, often lacked an awareness of appropriate skills. Effective engagement required a marrying of enterprise projects to academic expertise and staff sought incentivisation.
Themes that emerged from the data analysis led to the creation of an original model for enterprise, S4E. This has been based on four essential components which are: Strategic significance for Enterprise, Support for Enterprise, Synergy for Enterprise and Success for Enterprise. The recommendations have potential to inform practice in other academic schools and schools of education regionally, nationally and internationally.