chapter  4
24 Pages

The MIT Way

The purpose of this chapter is to characterize the nature of change in university-industry relationships at MIT and to understand the organizational factors that have shaped these changes.

As described in chapter 3, the main changes in university-industry relationships at MIT are the emergence of three new types of partnerships: (a) industrial consortia in the 1970s and their proliferation in the 1980s; (b) educational partnerships in the 1980s followed by subsequent attempts in the 1990s; (c) strategic alliances in the 1990s. The first of three sections of this chapter explores what processes lie behind these changes and concludes that such changes at MIT begin through a specific partnership initiative in a given locale, which is sustained over time, scaled up, and/or replicated into new locales. The fourth section summarizes changes at MIT. The fifth section argues that the way in which MIT defines the organizational boundaries, particularly in terms of people, knowledge and physical location, shapes powerfully the nature of initial agreements and the nature of subsequent interactions. The sixth section argues that “administrators” play a critical role in sustaining and replicating the new patterns of interactions. The final section demonstrates that individuals do not simply play “expected roles” as defined by the organizational boundaries, but provide real inputs in defining and developing the initiatives through active dialectics, which in turn appear to influence the way they are sustained, scaled up or replicated.