Home > Educational Leadership, Lifelong Learning > Balancing Act or Bridging Cultures?

Balancing Act or Bridging Cultures?

By Mary Churchill

What makes for a successful collaboration with a corporate partner? Although academic institutions are historically risk-averse, more and more universities are searching for ways to officially partner with private corporations both locally and globally. Last week’s sessions at the NAFSA11 conference for international education were filled with references to the growth of these partnerships.

I attended a session co-presented by Shirlayne Quayle, University of Utah; John LaBrie, Northeastern University; and Larry Green, Kaplan Global Solutions. The session was titled — Balancing Act: Innovative and Successful University-Private Sector Partnerships– and although each presenter gave a brief overview of their institution/company, the real heart of the talk focused on how to make these partnerships work.

All three agreed that one of the toughest challenges in these partnerships involves bridging the divide between the two distinct cultures. Depending on the context, the differences between academic and corporate cultures can be stark. This becomes painfully obvious when it comes to communication styles and operational processes. The shared governance model at universities often stresses consensus building, which takes time and tends to meander rather than follow any recognizable sort of straight line from point A to B. One slide presented two images representing academic culture: a maze and a snail. The counterpart to this stereotype came in a short video clip portraying the private sector he-man partner as a sword-wielding Conan the Barbarian type. Those of us in the audience laughed in acknowledgement upon recognizing a bit of truth in both sets of images.

Continued at: http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/university_of_venus/balancing_act_or_bridging_cultures

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