‘This is what We Got, what would You Like?’: Aligning and Unaligning Academic-industry Relations

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This paper explores academic-industry relations from the perspective of research managers in the pharmaceutical industry. While current policy discourse on academic-industry relations has emphasized the potential of creating stronger alignment between academic research and industrial R&D, scholars have also drawn attention to the fundamental misalignment of the two domains and the inherently problematic aspects of over-close ties. In this paper, we address the articulation of alignment and ‘unalignment’ in academic-industry relations and explore how industrial participants reflect on their relationship with academic research. The paper draws on a longitudinal study of academic-industry collaboration in a Danish pharmaceutical company, carried out from 2009 to 2011. Focusing on one specific case of collaboration, we show that these industry research managers make sense of academic-industry relations by both aligning and unaligning themselves with academic research. Indeed, at critical stages, and rather than simply serving as an impediment, the process of aligning and unaligning can be an important driver to collaboration. Generally, we propose that focusing on participants’ aligning and unaligning stances and efforts holds the promise of developing more nuanced, empirically-based accounts of academic-industry relations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Studies of Science
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)417–438
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Academic-industry relations
  • Alignment
  • Drug discovery
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Research collaboration

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