Values in University–Industry Collaborations: The Case of Academics Working at Universities of Technology

Rafaela Hillerbrand*, Claudia Werker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
107 Downloads (Pure)


In the applied sciences and in engineering there is often a significant overlap between work at universities and in industry. For the individual scholar, this may lead to serious conflicts when working on joint university–industry projects. Differences in goals, such as the university’s aim to disseminate knowledge while industry aims to appropriate knowledge, might lead to complicated situations and conflicts of interest. The detailed cases of two electrical engineers and two architects working at two different universities of technology illustrate the kinds of problems individual scholars face in university–business collaborations. These cases are based on qualitative interviews and additional data and demonstrate that, while value conflicts emerge on the organizational level, it is primarily the individual researcher who must deal with such conflicts. This analysis adds to existing studies in two ways: first, it explicitly addresses normative issues framed in terms of ethical and social values, thereby going beyond the common social-science perspective of university–business collaboration. Secondly, it provides qualitative insights, thereby identifying details and issues not apparent in quantitative studies. In particular, it is evident that university–industry collaborations are prone to value conflicts not only in research but also in education and job training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1633-1656
Number of pages24
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Academics
  • Universities of technology
  • University–industry collaborations
  • Value conflicts
  • Values


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