Journal directory listing - Volume 67 (2022) - Journal of Research in Education Sciences【67(2)】June (Special Issue: Revolution and Prospect of Personnel System in Higher Education)

(Special Issue) Cultivating University–Industrial Collaboration Through a Cross-Appointment System in Japanese Higher Education: A Case Study of Osaka University
Author: Chun-Yi Tan(Master Program of Higher Education Management,National Taichung University of Education), Shih-Chang Lo(Program in Japan Studies,National Chengchi Universiry), Nai-Ming Yu(Program in Japan Studies,National Chengchi Universiry)

Vol.&No.:Vol. 67, No. 2
Date:June 2022

To address needs for the open innovation and cultivation of university-industrial collaboration, the Japanese government has encouraged universities to integrate cross-appointment systems (CASs) into their personnel systems since the mid-2010s to promote technological innovation and technology transfer through the exchange of human resources between academia and industry.
CASs facilitate the establishment of joint appointments, in which a faculty member or researcher can affiliate with both a university and a company (or other university/research institute) simultaneously by entering a collaborative contract. After entering a collaborative contract, a faculty member/researcher works for both institutions in a specific arrangement of work time and workload, which facilitates the cross-border exchange of human resources between academia and industry and, in turn, facilitates cross-border innovation. By entering a collaborative contract, a faculty member can understand the priorities and perspectives of the company, and researchers employed by the company can be trained to use state-of-the-art technology available in the university. In addition, the company may provide an attractive salary to the faculty member as an incentive to participate in university-industrial collaboration.
Few studies have investigated CAS practices, and CASs have not been analyzed theoretically. Therefore, this study draws on the literature on barriers to and the facilitators of university-industrial collaboration as a framework to examine the practical process, effects, and challenges of CAS installation through a case study of Osaka University. Osaka University is a pioneer university in Japan that has adopted a CAS; it was selected for use as a case study because its CAS is often used as a representative case in Japan’s government policy guidelines.
In the relevant English-language literature, studies have demonstrated fundamental differences between academia and industry, such as those in their research goals, values, and work cultures, that complicate university-industrial collaboration. Some facilitators of university-industrial collaboration, including institutional support from universities, previous collaboration experience and trust between an academic institution and a company, social and geographical context, boundary-spanning activities, have been identified. In addition, the relevant Japanese literature indicate that to cultivate innovation, the Japanese government encourages universities to switch their university-industrial collaboration model from the traditional “silent understanding” (a long-term cooperation which relies on interpersonal relationship) model to the organization-to-organization model. The social meaning of university-industrial collaboration has changed from the commercialization of knowledge to university social responsibility, which is sometimes further linked to regional revitalization. The incorporation of national universities in Japan since 2004 has granted universities the autonomy to manage their intellectual property and maintain finance independence. Therefore, since 2004, university-industrial collaboration has flourished. Since the mid-2010s, government policy guidelines have promoted CASs as a means of promoting cross-border innovation through the university-industrial collaboration.
In this study, interviews were conducted with a personnel manager and a faculty member/ manager who participates in the CAS at Osaka University. Documents, including government policy guidelines, university regulations, and other documents related to Osaka University’s CAS practices, were collected and analyzed.
The findings are as follows. First, Osaka University’s CAS enables new types of boundary-spanning activities, in which each boundary spanner develops a new identity and becomes deeply involved in both the university and their respective company during the collaboration process. Thus, the CAS promotes the cross-border technological innovation effectively. Second, some factors affecting the installation and operation of the CAS, including the organizational culture of the university which encourages university-industrial collaboration, previous collaborative experience and trust between the university and the company, were identified. Osaka University’s CAS facilitates meaningful progress on the “fusion of industry and academia” at the university. Moreover, the university’s university-industrial collaboration model combines the features of the traditional silent understanding model and the organization-to-organization model in the Japanese context. Third, the CAS promotes the recruitment of foreign and female researchers, which introduces cultural diversity into the research environment. Fourth, some barriers to implementing measures to support faculty motivation and professional development remain. For instance, determining how to create and institutionalize a mechanism for adjusting the workload of faculty members who participate in the CAS is crucial, especially for promoting faculty participation in the system.
The implications of these findings for university-industrial collaboration and personnel system innovation in Taiwan are as follows. (1) To cultivate open and cross-border innovation, the government must establish new policies, institutions, and deregulations to grant more autonomy to universities, thus enabling them to making meaningful progress on the “fusion of industry and academia.” (2) To promote the “fusion of industry and academia,” universities must promote various boundary-spanning activities to create opportunities for collaboration between universities and industries and to cultivate an organizational culture that encourages faculty members to participate in and accumulate experience with organization-to-organization collaboration. (3) To encourage more faculty members to participate in university-industrial collaboration, diversified career development paths and faculty evaluation regulations are key to ensuring that faculty members who participate in university-industrial collaboration are not placed at a disadvantage in the university promotion system. (4) Companies, especially small and medium enterprises, must actively participate in university-industrial collaboration to strengthen their research and development capacities.
Because this study focused on CASs from the perspective of universities and faculty members, future studies may examine the effects of CASs from the perspective of participating companies to elucidate the effects of such systems on different stakeholders. Furthermore, although information collected in this study did not provide any insights regarding the problem of conflict of interest in CASs, a faculty member with a joint appointment with a company may encounter difficulties in avoiding conflicts of interest; therefore, this topic warrants further investigation. In addition, CASs can be applied not only in university-industrial collaboration but also in university-to-overseas university and university-to-research institution collaboration. Investigating the effects of and challenges encountered during various types of collaboration may provide meaningful insights into academic perspectives on CASs.

Keywords:Osaka University, higher education in Japan, cross-appointment system, university-industrial collaboration, open innovation

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APA FormatTan, C.-Y., Lo, S.-C., & Yu, N.-M. (2022). Cultivating University–Industrial Collaboration Through a Cross-Appointment System in Japanese Higher Education: A Case Study of Osaka University. Journal of Research in Education Sciences, 67(2), 95-124.