Department of Business Development and Technology

No Strings Attached? Potential Effects of External Funding on Freedom of Research

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Universities are increasingly pushed to apply for external funding for their research and incentivised for making an impact in the society surrounding them. The consequences of these third-mission activities for the degree of freedom of the research, the potential to make a substantial research contribution and the ethical challenges of this increased dependency on external funding are often neglected. The implications of external sponsorship of research depend on the level of influence of the sponsor in the various elements of the research. This paper provides a typology of sponsored innovation management research projects in order to create a common language between researchers and practitioners. Through in-depth analysis of nine innovation management research projects, carried out and funded in Northern Europe, and a rich set of qualitative data, the paper outlines the key dimensions of the projects where researchers and practitioners should agree on the degrees of freedom of the research project. It identifies three different methodological dimensions that can impact the likelihood of generating publishable results from the innovation management research. The three dimensions are purpose (e.g. formulating the topic of the research and the research question to pursue), throughput (the possibility of the researcher to decide on the way that the research question should be answered) and output (the expectations of the funding body on the results that should be generated from the innovation management research). The paper discusses the positive and negative impact of these types of projects and generates implications for the central stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Volume176
Issue1
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
ISSN0167-4544
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

    Research areas

  • Business ethics, Externally funded research, Research degrees of freedom

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