2.1. Barriers in the fulfillment of the Third mission. Dependent variable
Barriers limit or slow down the development of relationships between the university and socioeconomic environment (Bruneel et al., 2010b; D’Este & Patel, 2007). Specifically, the literature recognizes the following types of barriers, which are considered for the development of this work: (a) from academics, related to their resistance to participate in activities of the Third mission, which may be based on their perception of the complexity of these processes (Closs et al., 2012), their previous experience, commercial and negotiation skills (Bekkers & Bodas Freitas, 2010; Tartari & Breschi, 2012) in addition to their personal interests (Ramos-Vielba, Sánchez-Barrioluengo, et al., 2016; Tartari & Breschi, 2012). To this is added the lack of time, rewards, and resources to carry it out (Bozeman, 2000; Bruneel et al., 2010a; Gulbrandsen & Smeby, 2005; Jacobson et al., 2004; Mansfield & Lee, 1996; Siegel et al., 2004). (b) from the Process, the structural impediments in the processes during the fulfillment of the Third Mission create barriers not only between academics and users but also within the organizations that host them (Jacobson et al., 2004). Therefore, regarding the processes carried out by the university for the fulfillment of the Third mission, aspects such as procedures, dedication, support structure, culture, and technology transfer operation (Lemos et al., 2014) have an important effect on the achievement of the expected results. Bureaucracy and centralization of administrative and legal support also play a significant role in the effectiveness of these mechanisms associated with the fulfillment of the Third Mission (Closs et al., 2012). (c) Barriers from the partner. It is often argued that there are barriers associated with cultural and organizational differences that limit interactions between the scientific community and society (Belkhodja & Landry, 2005; Bruneel et al., 2010b; Dasgupta & David, 1994; Hughes & Kitson, 2012; Vega-Jurado et al., 2020).
The study considers a dependent variable that represents the types of barriers perceived by an academic in the relationship with different non-academic agents of the socioeconomic environment in such a way that the dependent variable BARRi represents the three types of barriers that are analyzed in this study, as follows: (i) Academic Barriers (BINV); (ii) Barriers from the Partner (BALID), and (iii) Barriers from the Process (BPROC). To construct these variables, we took the data obtained from the instrument in which the respondents were asked to indicate, on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is equivalent to “none” and 5 to “a lot,” to what extent different aspects have been an obstacle in relation to other entities. To this end, the instrument had 16 options to select. To simplify the variables, a factor analysis was carried out, the results of which show that the barriers are grouped into three factors similar to those identified in the literature, in which it is recognized that among the main types of barriers studied are those associated with (i) Academic Barriers (BINV); (ii) Barriers from the Partner (BALID); and (iii) Barriers from the Process (BPROC). The assessments made on each barrier were transformed into binary variables that take the value of 1 if the academic perceives the type of barrier and equal 0 if not.
2.2. Mitigating factors of the Barriers for fulfilling the Third Mission. Explanatory variables
The factors that could mitigate the barriers and constitute the focus of the study are as follows: (i) organizational aspects of the university for the fulfillment of the activities of the Third Mission; (ii) the focus of the academics’ research; and (iii) the nature of the institution (public/private). Thus, this article examines whether these factors play a critical role in reducing the barriers that academics face in their participation in Third Mission activities. Next, we describe theoretical aspects and the information taken into consideration for each of these explanatory variables. Table 1 presents the details of the measurement and ranges of the values associated with the explanatory variables.
Organizational Aspects of the University: Organizational aspects are understood as how power and authority is exercised in organizations for the allocation and management of resources. It involves the promulgation of policies and procedures for decision-making and control in the direction or management of organizations for the effectiveness of the processes (Carnegie & Tuck, 2010). They are also related to all those structures, processes, and activities that participate in the planning and management of institutions and people (Fielden, 2008). Thus, to ensure the fulfillment of the Third mission, the universities have developed processes and structures that have fostered the institutionalization of this mission in order to support, manage, and carry it out more efficiently (Geuna et al., 2009). Some of the main organizational processes that a university must carry out within the framework of the fulfillment of the Third Mission and its relationships with non-academic agents are as follows: establishing policies and procedures, having management capacity, having capacity for technology transfer and resource allocation. (Jacobson et al., 2004) in addition to developing strategies for connecting with the environment and allowing their effective measurement (OCTS-OEI & RICYT, 2017).
The factors described in this section are used in the empirical section to understand their impact on the relationship of academic professors with different types of non-academic agents and the use of different mechanisms associated with the fulfillment of the Third Mission. For this work, we obtained information about the research professor’s perceptions on the management of the university to which he or she is affiliated with regard to the fulfillment of the Third Mission. Such information was directly obtained from the instrument applied for the study and after a factorial analysis with a total variance explained of 82.418, we identified four new factors as follows: (i) policies and procedures (POLyPROC); (ii) management capacity (CAPGest); (iii) capacity for technology transfer (CAPTransf); and (iv) allocation of ASIGNRec resources. Moreover, information was included on their opinion on the frequency in carrying out activities and processes to support relationships. A factor analysis was applied to reduce variables, which led to the construction of a series of variables that represent the researcher’s perception of the frequency in which the university carries out these processes of (i) promotion and communication (PROYCOM), (ii) information (INF), (iii) management (AGEST), and (iv) two variables that represent the counseling, during, and at the end of the relationship (APREL) and relationship counseling (ADyDREL). The reliability values for each variable are as follows: (i) (PROYCOM), σ2 = 72,155% and α = 0,934; (ii) (INF), σ2 = 74,05% and α = 0,883; (iii) (AGEST) σ2 = 80,061% and with α = 0,964 y; and (iv) (APREL) and (ADyDREL) with σ2 = 76,891% and α = 0,899 and 0,947, respectively.
Research focus: One element that has been considered is how professors approach their research process, which affects their actions and, respectively, their collaboration process with the socioeconomic environment. Traditionally, this factor has been approached from the academic disciplinary area. Today, some authors have taken as a theoretical reference the distinction of the Stokes quadrant that distinguishes two basic dimensions from the focus of the research: (i) the realization of scientific contributions for understanding phenomena and facts and (ii) the practical use and/or application of knowledge outside the scientific or academic field [40-42]. This variable was operationalized through the so-called Stokes quadrant from two questions in the instrument in which the academics were asked to rate the following items on a Likert scale from 1 to 5, with 1 = none and 5 = a lot: (i) the extent to which the scientific activity is inspired by making contributions to the fundamental understanding of phenomena and facts and (ii) the extent to which the academic’s activity is inspired by considerations of use. This was used to obtain a map of the values that guide the work of the academics (Olmos-Peñuela, Castro-Martínez, & Fernández-Esquinas, 2014) in such a way that the resulting configurations for each quadrant are the following: (i) NN: low fundamental understanding and consideration of use; (ii) Edison: low fundamental understanding and high consideration of use; (iii) Bohr: high fundamental understanding and low consideration of use; and (iv) Pasteur: high fundamental understanding and consideration of use.
Type of University
In the case of universities in Latin America, there are differences between each of the typologies of universities in their organizational aspects and governance structures, which is the result of a different process of social, economic, and intellectual development (Molas-Gallart et al., 2002). In the case of universities in Latin America, there are differences between each of the typologies of public or private universities, in their organizational aspects and governance structures. Therefore, it is possible to affirm that the barriers perceived in the fulfillment of the Third mission vary between public and private universities. Considering the differences between the typologies of public and private universities, both in their organizational aspects and governance structures, in the applied instrument, the professors were asked about the type of university to which they are affiliated.
Finally, two variables were included to control the effect of the explanatory variables in the analysis: Previous experience in the public sector (EXPPubl) and the private sector (EXPPriv), which is measured by the number of years in which the academic has worked in the public or private sector, prior to joining the university, of which it is assumed that the professor has acquired relationship capital in the sector associated with his or her previous experience and expertise for the development of activities associated with the Third Mission according to that stated in the literature and Type of connection at the university. In the literature, it is recognized that the status of the professor at the University (Azagra-Caro et al., 2006; Este & Patel, 2007; Schuelke-Leech, 2013), particularly with regard to the status of their career in the teaching structure (Bonaccorsi et al., 2014), may have an impact on the performance of the process in its relationship with the environment, particularly with companies. For this reason, the academics in the sample were asked to indicate the type of relationship they have within the university.