Document Type


Publication Date

January 2015


Along with teaching and service, research is one of the main missions of a university. Over the last 30 years, innovation resulting from scientific and technological development is prompting the creation of new bridges between the academia and the productive sector. As a result, through research, universities find alternatives to positively impact the society, generate alternative sources of revenue, and gain more prestige. Thus, research productivity has become a more defining characteristic than an option for universities in the twenty-first century. All over the world, state and private universities intensively look for ways to generate new knowledge and technologies that can transform economies and the society in general. The most prominent universities have been pioneers and lead the development of patents and spin-off businesses. This entrepreneurial environment is challenging the traditional understanding of university research and relationship between universities and the society. The “ivory tower” model of the university, where knowledge is produced in a “pure” form, is being replaced by a more applied approach. Universities are seen as boosters of economic development. The participation of the private sector in the research endeavor also constitutes an alternative to the public funding, which in turn contributes to a better infrastructure, improved programs, and financial stability of universities. In other words, the changing paradigm focuses on a broader network of interdependent relationships in which universities, governments and the productive sector work as partners in the production and use of knowledge for the solution of issues. This is known as the “Triple Helix Model.” In this context, university professors are encouraged to increase their research productivity in terms of publications in indexed journals and external funding of projects. In the predominantly government-funded universities throughout Latin America, there is also an increasing interest to move from the basic to a more applied research that can lead to innovation. At the same time, governments are pushing universities to generate more research. Even though research universities are very expensive institutions, they are seen as very important engines of economic growth. In several countries, governments urge private universities, the focus of this book, to add research as part of their educational projects. They use different mechanisms such as accreditation that includes measurement of academic community involvement in research activities. This kind of requirements constitutes a challenge for many private universities that have traditionally emphasized teaching and knowledge transmission over research production. However, the future survival and positioning of institutions that aspire to become world-class universities relies on their ability to produce research and innovation. It is a distinctive symbol of prestige and a way to attract resources and project-development opportunities. Universities that can provide an appropriate environment, engage their faculty members, and redirect resources to produce quality research will not only get ahead in this tight competition, but also will have a remarkable impact on their local economies by generating jobs and producing better trained graduates.Since it is often considered that many universities have not been successful at transcending a mainly teaching culture, this book focuses on the study of several Latin American private universities that have been successful at developing their research and turning it into a productive endeavor. However, there still exist some contradictions. For instance, faculty members are often expected to teach a full load of classes while working on research and publishing articles. Nevertheless, professors at these institutions have differing levels of productivity. With this book, we expected to contribute to the understanding of the conditions that can help private universities to be more research productive and, at the same time, develop different models to provide education at the higher level. Chapters throughout the book introduce many cases of private universities from Latin America that has experienced different levels of success. Chapters will cover topics such as: a) a historical overview of how Latin American private universities have evolved to become successful models as research producers; b) an analysis of specific institutional reforms carried out to overcome cultural resistance to change; c) implementation of policies related to teaching load, productivity requirements, patent generation, technology transfer, funding mechanisms to support and stimulate faculty research activities; and/or d) public policies that framed strategic planning and propelled research. The aim is to provide a combination of factors like stakeholder reviews, a theoretical background to understand the current focus on productivity, and critical discussions around major issues.