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Schneijderberg, Christian; Götze, Nicolai (2021): Academics’ Societal Engagement in Cross-country Perspective. Large-n in Small-n Comparative Case Studies. In: Higher Education Policy 3 (4), S. 1–17

This editorial article presents the conceptual approach to researching academics’ societal engagement (ASE) in the cross-country study “Academic Profession in Knowledge Societies (APIKS).” Methodologically, the APIKS survey (large-n) aims for the cross-country comparative study of academics’ work (research, teaching, ASE and (self-governance) of selected country cases (small-n). We define ASE broadly as social co-construction of knowledge (and technology) by academics and partners from outside academia. Conceptually, we amended the analytical framework by Perkmann et al. (Res Policy 42:423–442, 2013), for example, by adding a contextual factors box (e.g., network indicators). For the study of ASE, in a collaborative effort, we evaluated ASE-activities or types of ASE-activities and selected 17 ASE-activities, which are applicable in varying national higher education and sciences contexts. We find that concrete ASE-practices are strongly connected to the national higher education and science traditions of the respective countries and disciplinary cultures. The technical and commercial dimension of ASE is dominantly performed in STEM-fields, and knowledge dissemination activities and participation in external science organizations are more common in HSS-fields. We consider the APIKS study of ASE to be a further step toward establishing international knowledge about ASE-activities for cross-country comparison.

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