These are partnerships where one of the partners is paying for goods or services from the other partner(s). Consultancies would fall under this heading. The consultancy could be provided by the institution, or could be being provided to the institution.
Knowledge exchange partnerships
These can take many forms and are evident in both further and higher education institutions. However it is less likely that FE institutions will have consciously identified them as a knowledge exchange partnership.
Membership of a forum such as the local chamber of commerce, membership of organisations such as Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association (UCISA), Association of University Administrators (AUA), Association of Colleges (AoC), membership of trade-based associations and trade unions are all examples of a knowledge exchange partnership.
Institutions can instigate or facilitate knowledge exchange through formal and informal gatherings of like-minded individuals in the form of meetings, conferences and adult classes, many of which have a social aspect to them, all of these being staged by the institution.
Exchange of knowledge can also occur on a less formal basis through membership of mailing lists, online forums, special interest groups, social networking sites, alumni associations and through personal interaction with colleagues and others at conferences and socially.
The embedding BCE project identified that institutions were often less successful at exchanging knowledge internally than externally with, for instance, low take-up internally of places on conference-type activities organised by the institution.
Knowledge transfer partnerships
Here we must acknowledge the differing uses of terms across the sector. What we are about to describe under the heading of ‘knowledge transfer partnerships’ some institutions will be thinking should have been included under ‘knowledge exchange partnerships’. As with many areas of work and activity within the sector, institutions should apply the relevant terms in use internally unless it makes sense to them to change in light of the information given here and elsewhere.
A knowledge transfer partnership is where a post-graduate student is placed with a company, usually at a high level, to implement some change or to run a project. The student works within the company and is supervised by the company whilst being monitored, perhaps once a week, by a lecturer.
The company gains from the knowledge of a postgraduate worker and the institution gains knowledge of current thinking and issues for the trade area of the company and an informal case study of management practice and processes. It was reported that in many instances, the post-graduate placement can gain employment with the company at the end of the placement.
To the company, this form of partnership is very similar to a consultancy and a balance should be sought between the amount of information gained by each party. Commercial companies need to guard their Intellectual Property, including details of processes and decision-making as well as physical products and are quickly disengaged by attempts to (as they see it) ‘mind-suck’ their knowledge and processes.