‘Third mission’ activities, commercialisation and academic entrepreneurs

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Abstract

The growth of ‘third mission’ activities aimed at commercialising universities and creating more entrepreneurial academics is a global phenomenon yet has received scant attention from anthropologists. This paper reports on an ethnographic study that examines the rise of university commercialisation in New Zealand, a country that pioneered many of the reforms associated with neoliberalism. Exploring different sites and spaces of university commercialisation we ask: what impact is commercialisation having on the meaning and mission of the university? Who are the new academic entrepreneurs of the neoliberal university? What does ‘entrepreneurship’ mean in a public university context? Finally, we analyse the challenges and contradictions this is creating for the public university.

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