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The story of a university knowledge exchange actor-network told through the sociology of translation: a case study

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/12/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number6
Volume16
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)502-516
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to tell the story of the evolution of knowledge exchange (KE) activity within a department in a university in the north west of England and to understand this activity through the lens of actor-network theory.

Design/methodology/approach – Applying the sociology of translation to one qualitative interview shows how different actors were enrolled and mobilized into a KE actor-network. The process of translation consists of four stages, problematisation, enrolment, interessement and mobilisation of allies which have been applied to the data to tell the story of the KE actor-network. This is a cross-disciplinary approach using a theoretical framework from sociology and applying it to a management/organizational context.

Findings – This framework brings fresh ways of looking at the importance of KE networks within universities. Although limited to one interview, the methodology allows for an in-depth reading of the data and shows how resilient and flexible this actor-network is to withstand and respond appropriately to shifts in policy and subsequent provisions for small- and medium-sized enterprise business support.

Originality/value – Building from one case, the paper concludes that this account adds to an historical understanding of how universities become involved with KE activities. The inclusion of non-human actors allows for a deeper understanding of the actor-network and shows the importance of actors such as White Papers, pots of funding and physical buildings to the role of KE within higher education.