Academic Capitalism

Richard Münch

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics

Published online May 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780190228637 | DOI:

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Academic capitalism is a unique hybrid that unites the scientific search for truth and the economic maximization of profits. It turns universities into enterprises competing for capital accumulation and businesses into knowledge producers looking for new findings that can be turned into patents and profitable commodities. In order to understand what this new institutional setting means for science and the evolution of scientific knowledge, science as a field in a Bourdieusian perspective, which operates in the tension field between autonomy and heteronomy, is explored. On this basis, crucial features of academic capitalism and their impact on science as well as the evolution of scientific knowledge are described. Academic capitalism is located in the zone of the intersection of scientific research, economic profit maximization, and innovation policy. The institutional conflicts of interest involved in the corporate funding of academic research are addressed. The logic of academic capital accumulation is spelled out by describing the entrepreneurial university. Field effects of academic capital accumulation on science, namely over-investment at the top and under-investment among the rank and file, are examined, along with the organizational effects of academic capital accumulation in terms of managerial quality assurance on diversity and creativity as crucial prerequisites of advancing scientific knowledge. The main results of the analysis are summarized and some guidelines for future research are presented.

Keywords: academic capitalism; entrepreneurial university; New Public Management; stratification in science; academic freedom; university-industry cooperation; diversity in science; academic elite circulation; academic rankings; audit university

Article.  10231 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Behaviour

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