Love and Hate in University Technology Transfer Examining Faculty and Staff Conflicts and Ethical Issues

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"This chapter examines the literature focused on the relationship between university research faculty and technology transfer office staff. We attempt to provide greater understanding of how research faculty’s personal values and research universities’ organization values may differ and why. Faculty researchers and tech transfer office (TTO) staff are perceived to be virtuous agents. When both are meeting each other’s needs, a “love” relationship exists. However, when these needs are not met, a “hate” relationship exists that is replete with doubt and uncertainty. This doubt and uncertainty creates tension and subsequent conflicts. There are many accounts where faculty researchers have not followed university policies and expectations, often violating policy and ethical standards. Likewise, faculty report numerous examples of how TTO staff members’ negligence in servicing their attempts to be good institutional citizens have failed them. This paper explores this love/hate relationship and reveals numerous conflicts that call into question ethical concerns. It also provides a set of recommendations for reducing and potentially alleviating these concerns. Results from a thorough review of the literature on the relationship between faculty and university TTOs reveals that perceived job insecurity is the primary reason that some research faculty members as well as some TTO staff, unethically violate their university policy to disclose invention disclosures and select to not provide full services, respectively. One way to alleviate the conflict between faculty’s personal values regarding their inventions and university’s organizational values is to enact measures that build trust and reduce insecurity among faculty members and TTO staff. In this paper, we not only examine this faculty/TTO staff ethical conflicts, but we offer a set of recommendations that we believe will reduce the likelihood of unethical behavior while encouraging greater institutional commitment and trust."
technology transfer, ethics, science, research, higher education, patents, intellectual property rights, management, innovation, value, trust