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Institutional work in academic technological facilities: A multi-case study from the field of biotechnology in France

Abstract : Purpose and design During this financially challenging times, public labs receive government funding to create technological core facilities (TCFs), which offsets the obligation to be open to any users. In the context of Gradual Budgetary Autonomy of Universities, academic TCFs are the object of multiple institutional demands (public service mission: training, world-class research, and revenue-generating commercial activity) that can be potentially contradictory. This article has two objectives: (1) to identify the different institutional demands at play for technological core facilities and the tensions that this could give rise to and (2) to identify the different ways in which these tensions are addressed, illustrating the institutional work of the manager. With a qualitative analysis, ten institutional demands are identified, some of them are potentially contradictory. Findings and practical implications The ways in which demands are balanced help us underline three institutional works made by academic facilities directors; “conciliatory,” “academic research focused,” or prioritizing “research support.” In the studied cases, there is a clear link between the TCFs' founding legal structure and this institutional work. By contrast, the TCF size, the capability of the manager, scientific domain, and current equipment do not differentiate response strategies with respect to institutional demands. In financially challenging times, universities need to define precisely the different missions of TCFs and their potential complementarities, and they also need to be consistent in the selection of their legal form. At the end, this strategic vision of the TCFs activities appears to be a central issue for the university to improve its research and transfer activities. Originality/value The multi-level approach – institutional, organizational, and agency – gives account of the clearly contradictory nature of the institutional demands. These contradictory demands make possible an institutional work, and three possible trajectories of the TCFs could be identified. For each of them, a specific legal structure of TCF is highlighted.
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Contributor : Naïla Louise-Rose <>
Submitted on : Sunday, December 13, 2015 - 10:17:59 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 1:21:07 PM



Audrey Tremeau, Dominique Philippe Martin, Arnaud Devillez. Institutional work in academic technological facilities: A multi-case study from the field of biotechnology in France. Journal of High Technology Management Research, Elsevier, 2015, 26 (2), pp.137-148. ⟨10.1016/j.hitech.2015.09.009⟩. ⟨halshs-01242697⟩



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