Academic engagement: A review of the literature 2011-2019

Markus Perkmann, Rossella Salandra, Valentina Tartari, Maureen McKelvey, Alan Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

209 Citations (SciVal)


We provide a systematic review of the literature on academic engagement from 2011 onwards, which was the cut-off year of a previous review article published in Research Policy. Academic engagement refers to knowledge-related interactions of academic scientists with external organisations. It includes activities such as collaborative research with industry, contract research, consulting and informal ties. We consolidate what is known about the individual, organisational and institutional antecedents of academic engagement, and its consequences for research, commercialisation, and society at large. Our results suggest that individual characteristics associated with academic engagement include being scientifically productive, senior, male, locally trained, and commercially experienced. Academic engagement is also socially conditioned by peer effects and disciplinary characteristics. In terms of consequences, academic engagement is positively associated with academics’ subsequent scientific productivity. We propose new areas of investigation where evidence remains inconclusive, including individual life cycle effects, the role of organisational contexts and incentives, cross-national comparisons, and the impact of academic engagement on the quality of subsequent research as well as the educational, commercial and society-wide impact.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104114
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number1
Early online date29 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The effect of engagement on research – the production of scientific knowledge – has been a long-standing question, and recent work has deployed some econometrically sophisticated methods. Of particular interest are implications for research productivity (number of publications per researcher) and research quality (quality of publications per researcher). Bikard et al. (2019) exploit evidence on simultaneous discoveries where several scientists (from a large cross country sample, of which 60% are US based) make roughly the same discovery around the same time. They find that academic scientists who collaborate with industry generate more follow-on publications. This finding, apart from confirming the existence of synergies between academic and industry research, suggests that science-industry collaboration enables a fruitful division of labour between academic scientists and their industry counterparts. 8 8 According to Hottenrott and Lawson (2017) , obtaining funding from industry is positively associated with both the number and the quality of subsequent publications for a sample of UK engineering academics, even though industry funding negatively moderates the impact of public/non-profit grants on these measures. Similarly, Garcia et al. (2020) in a study of Brazil also determine that particularly long-term collaboration has positive effects – at a decreasing rate – on the number of publications of academic research groups. However, based on evidence on a large sample of UK engineering academics, Banal-Estañol et al. (2015) find that obtaining research funding from industrial partners positively affects the number of publications, yet only up to a point from where research productivity declines.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors


  • Academic consulting
  • Academic entrepreneurship
  • Collaborative research
  • Commercialisation
  • Technology transfer
  • University-industry relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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