Could you name a Canadian professor you know when it comes to their research, insights and subject matter expertise on the impact and relationship between people and leaders in the workplace (not including Henry Mintzberg)?
Do Canadian leaders know how many local universities actively conduct research studies on leadership and organizational effectiveness? It may surprise you to know many leaders are totally unaware of the availability of these valuable resources.
I’m curious as to what the barriers may be that deter leaders from wanting to know and leverage local research, insights and expertise to help build a great organization. Hopefully, it’s a lack of awareness versus a lack of interest.
On the other hand, are there long-established barriers and institutional regulations within academia that hinder the marketing of their services to corporations?
In June, the three academics invited by the Strategic Capability Network each introduced, validated and offered fresh perspectives on the impact and relationship between people and leaders in our workplaces.
Highlights included: the key roles and relationships between middle managers and their teams; the importance of leaders earning people’s trust; the need to embrace complexity and stop trying to reduce or control it; and the benefits of adopting reflective thinking practices. Even a few enduring management assumptions and practices were debunked.
Evidently, local, cutting-edge research is available, yet finding or accessing the expertise appears to be a challenge for many corporations. There are, however, some outstanding examples where university-corporate linkages are proving to be highly beneficial.
IBM Canada partnered with seven Canadian universities and created centres of excellence where leading-edge research is encouraged between cross-sector leading experts. These centres have reportedly made convincing advances across a broad range of issues and innovation-related activities in health care, water, cities and urban concerns.
Then there is the national not-for-profit organization Mitacs which designs and delivers research and training programs in Canada. It works with 60 universities, thousands of companies and both federal and provincial governments, and is dedicated to building partnerships that support industrial and social innovation.
Consistent with a publication prepared by Canada’s Public Policy Forum in May, both these examples show how collaboration and cross-sectoral partnerships help reinforce Canada as one of the world’s most viable investment prospects with a track record for maintaining a viable business environment along with an educated, diverse, highly skilled workforce that can generate innovation.
With the changing global, economic and political world we live in, is it time academia re-positioned and reworked its relationship with business? What has to happen in order for academia to rethink its strategies and tools to make its research capabilities more visible, its expertise more accessible and its resources better known?
Likewise, is it time for corporations to rethink how they can engage with academia and start to leverage subject matter expertise, applied and action research capabilities and resources?
There’s clearly a win-win opportunity waiting to be reworked by academia and corporate Canada in developing a synergistic, collaborative framework with common interests to create forward-looking business partnerships based on trust, open dialogue and shared knowledge.
Being able to create opportunities where common interests are identified, expertise is leveraged and theory can be translated into applied, cutting-edge research can only help accelerate innovation, create great organizations and sustain that competitive advantage. Let’s do it.
Is it time academia re-positioned and reworked its relationship with business?
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This commentary first appeared in Canadian HR Reporter. Members can read the accompanying article in SCNetwork’s online library.
Trish Maguire is a commentator for SCNetwork on leadership in action and founding principal of Synergyx Solutions in Nobleton, Ont., which focuses on high-potential leadership development coaching. Trish has held senior leadership roles in HR and OD in education, manufacturing and entrepreneurial firms. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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