Developing university-industry relationships via professional placements
: a new framework for additional value co-creation

  • Renatus Wilhelmus Jonannes Moolenaar

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Strong University Industry (U I) relationships support the missions of both parties. For universities, strong relationships can increase research income, access to research data, improve access to ‘real world’ situations for students and provide feedback on the appropriate ness of the curriculum. For industry these relationships are an additional source of knowledge, support the resolution of complex challenges and provide a pipeline of graduate employees. Despite these benefits such relationships are difficult to establish and maintain; this is because of the lack of understanding of who to contact ‘on the other side’ the appointment of ‘ people and how to continue the relationship after the initial project.

Professional placements are a common feature of many undergraduate, and increasingly postgraduate, courses. The benefits for students, the placement employer and the university are well documented. However, the role of placements in the development of U I relationships is largely under explored. This is surprising given that in the UK over 25,000 students went on a professional placement during the academic year 2019/20 (Office for Students, 2020) which could have resulted in a significant proportion of early stage U I relationships or supporting existing relationships

This study makes a significant contribution to our understanding of how a placement single service relationship can support the development of a multi service U I relationship. The findings are based on a case study with the placement programme of a leading UK Business School. I have developed a new framework for the development of U I relationships via placements. This framework identifies a number of principal actors, their roles in relationship development, and bespoke relationship prerequisites and accelerators for both the university and placement employer Furthermore, I recommend that the traditional placement programme is repositioned as a relationship building programme incorporating placements This should be sup ported by the confirmation of strategic intent for relationship building and the provision of adequate resources to facilitate its implementation.

This study makes a significant contribution to the literature on U I relationship development such as those developed by Frasquet et al. 2012 Plewa et al 2013 Galan Muros and Davey 2019 and Zunda et al. 2020 Service Dominant Logic ( (Vargo and Lusch, 2004, 2008, 201 6 and Dynamic Relationship Marketing ( (Zhang et al., 2016).

Finally, this study contributes to the practice of the University of Sussex and its Business School through a) it s recommendation to reposition placements towards a relationship building programme that includes improving employability prospect s for students, b) the need to clarify and confirm the strategic intent of the programme c) the need to revise the role descriptors of the key actors and finally, d) the provision of adequate relationship building resources More generally and including the U I relationship and professional placements community this study contributes through the introduction of the new NURTURE framework and associated prerequisites and accelerators
Date of AwardAug 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDaniel Francis Thomas Nunan (Supervisor) & Mahsa Ghaffari (Supervisor)

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