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Institutional Innovation

Too many scientific institutions (whether funding agencies or universities) fall into the same patterns and structures. For example, most research universities tend to look very similar–they have a president, a provost, a chancellor, a similar set of academic departments, a similar set of positions (assistant professor, associate professor, full professor, etc.), a similar tenure timeline based on similar standards, a similar system of granting both undergraduate and graduate degrees (in terms of timeline, curricular content, and more), a similar way of approaching grants, and so forth.

Why would this be the case? Have we settled on the perfect system for structuring all research into all possible academic fields for all time? That seems awfully unlikely. There are many people alive today whose parents or grandparents were alive in 1905, when Einstein had his “miracle year,” i.e., he published several of his most significant results at age 26 while working in a patent office, without a university position or funding.

Scientific innovation is more likely when there is a greater diversity of institutional approaches.

Relevant Articles

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  2. Why NIH Should Reinvigorate An Advisory Board On Its Performance And Organizational Structure
  3. Unpacking The ‘Idea’ Of Entrepreneurship: A Case Study In Successful Translational Medicine
  4. We Won The War On Infectious Diseases, But Now We Need To Learn From It
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  6. A Progress Studies History Of Early MIT—Part 2: An Industrial Research Powerhouse
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  8. How Karl Compton Believed A Research Department Should Be Run