Higher Education Institutions (HEI) have been pressured to satisfy multiple missions, incorporating ones related with the notion of academic entrepreneurship. Taking the traditional tripartite roles of academics (education, research and third mission) HEIs have been pushed to develop scientific knowledge increasingly related with the needs of society and not just knowledge for knowledge.
In this paper we reflect on the professionals who keep up and promote the evolution of HEI, who humanize the institutions and perform their missions. The main objective to achieve is to understand the process of professionalization of science within the academic careers. How these may or may not could be driven through the socio-technical networks that HEIs foster. We want to understand how these dynamics are created, to examine them and test them with the information collected. With this work we intend to understand how career position impacts in a collaborative activity with external institutions and vice versa.
We also intend to emphasize the relations among HEI and the external environment and to promote the discussion of the results of these relationships: which incentives and advantages are linked with, how is possible to capitalize and to improve the resources.
Based on the research project - Know Best - quantitative data was collected from an online questionnaire distributed to Portuguese academics (HEI: public, private, universities, polytechnics, and research centres). Data analysis was performed to contemplate the orientation of external activities in HEI: portray it from an academic perspective and test the variable relationship with the career position of the responders in profession. It is intended to conclude from a representative sample of Portuguese academic professionals, that totalized 3199 answers, of which, 2206 are complete.
It was used SPSS to descriptive analysis with arithmetic average at first, and later to test and analyse correlations between variables. To verify the existence of association between the studied variables, bivariate correlations were performed, considering a confidence level of 95% (P ≤0.05). To get an overview of this thematic, it was studied the expertise of the work associated to professionalization in science production contexts, that were conducted to the ways of interdependence, related with networks (Patrício, 2010; Price, Coffey & Netherey, 2015), given that each intervenient has also a high autonomy about his own networks (Boreham, 1983).
The results showed that Joint research and publications, Supervision of student internships and/or student work placements and Public lectures and speeches are the main activities which academics spend more time. Only in the activities related with Consultancy some differences between professionals were observed. HEI still have more partnership networks with their peers (other HEI), maintaining the action exclusively in academic field. Furthermore, not for profit organizations and public research institutions are the other organizations that are privileged as partners. If we analyse these networks by academic position it is observed that are Associate Professors, Associate Invited Professor and Assistant Professor Tenured who are more involved with external partners.
Data analysis allows to conclude that the position in the academic career influence the way academics relate with the external environment and the sort of activities they are developing.