My research is based on the assumption that knowledge has an intrinsic market value (whether this be student, community, business or political markets) and is a product that can be packaged, exchanged, modified and distributed. This is a stance which causes me considerable unease as I watch the relationship between 'business' and higher education strengthen....
So what is the subject of my first blog? Well it is a short reflection on the language of knowledge transfer...
A couple of weeks ago I had my upgrade interview and in the middle of the discussions, I had an epiphany - apart from my supervisor and I, neither of the examiners could relate to the language and terminology I was using to describe the subject of my research. Whilst terms and acronyms simply rolled off my tongue with a fluidity that even shocked me (deals, spin-outs, stage-gating, KT touch points, tech transfer etc...) - there was a real 'venus & mars' situation and an interpreter was required.
Once the upgrade was over I reflected on this experience and a thought occurred to me, the institution where I am registered for my PhD does not have a comprehensive university offering, it is specialises in education and social sciences. Therefore, the opportunities for academics to be involved with or aware of the techniques surrounding the commercialisation of research outputs is limited. I had incorrectly assumed that after a decade of 3rd mission funding, the sector was fully conversant with the language of this world. This experience has caused me to examine my practice of the art of KT:
- When I am at work, am I speaking a different language to the communities I am there to support? Just how full of jargon am I?
- Do I use a secret language to exercise power and control, to protect boundaries, to distance myself or a combination of all?
- If I do not speak the language of education and research, what language do I speak? Am I speaking the native language of Celia Whitchurch's the 3rd space?