University - Community interaction: the development of a network to facilitate knowledge and know-how diffusion between Dublin City University and four partnership companies
AbstractPartnership Companies - which unite community development groups with the statutory agencies and social partners - have been established throughout Ireland, to tackle the problem of unemployment in a structured and sustainable manner. Despite the success of these companies to date, there still exists a deficit in the technical skills available to research issues and make better-informed decisions. The development and acquisition of knowledge and know-how, and its diffusion to students has been, and will continue to be, a major role for universities. However, many higher educational establishments are currently seeking new ways to interact proactively with their local communities. The transfer of knowledge and know-how to communities, offers an opportunity for universities to make a significant contribution to the community development process. A pilot programme to develop and test the feasibility of an innovative network to enhance the exchange of knowledge and know-how between Dublin City University and four North Dublin Partnership Companies has been initiated. This thesis critically examines the network through both participant observation of the pilot programme and a literature review of related material. The examination indicates that the network has the potential to benefit the stakeholders - DCU, FAS, the Partnership Companies, local communities and other network participants - though some issues still need to be addressed. These are: formal recognition for university staff involvement must be initiated; contractual arrangements between the university and the partnership companies must be agreed; and, funding of the network to facilitate the maintenance of more sustainable links must be sought. Issues that require further research are: the appropriateness of ultimate responsibility for the research resting outside the university; temporary personnel exchanges between the university and the partnership companies; and, the applicability of the network in other situations of university-community interaction.