This paper provides evidence of the importance of the university context in the facilitation of academic engagement. We conceptualise universities as important actors in the innovation process, and academic engagement as encompassing knowledge-related activities occurring within and outside the university, i.e. those involving both internal and external stakeholders. Universities have increasingly been seen to engage with their communities, or at least show much interest in third mission activities. Universities have, in some cases, put on a cloak of entrepreneurship and have essentially introduced the market into academia. Academic scientists have also had to be more entrepreneurial. However, too often, a chasm is evident between the institutional efforts and the individual efforts identified – universities’ engagement efforts may not always consolidate the efforts of individual academics who could be considered the actual conduits for knowledge exchange. In fact, several studies have reported that academic scientists frequently engage outside their institutions with little or no direct assistance from their universities. In our view, this has implications on the ability of universities to facilitate knowledge exchange processes. Based on 39 interviews from Sweden and the UK, we argue that enhanced management of knowledge exchange processes is imperative for facilitating knowledge exchange. Our findings have implications for university management.
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