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					University trustees relation to university research and the potential of conflict of interest

Charles Mathies Sheila Slaughter

Acknowledgements
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NIH - “University trustees and conflict of interest” (Georgia Trustee Database) Slaughter, Feldman and Thomas 2005-2007 AERA – “Research Hierarchy” Mathies 2006-2009; "AERA Grants Program" from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics of the Institute of Education Sciences, and the National Science Foundation under NSF Grant #REC-0634035. Opinions reflect those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the granting agencies

Introduction
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Conflict of Interest (COI): when an institution, any of its senior management or trustees, or sub-unit has an external relationship or financial interest in a research project … the existence (or appearance) of such conflicts can lead to actual bias, or suspicion about possible bias, in the review or conduct of research at the university (AAU) Increased attention to COI issues within higher education
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Most attention & policies directed at faculty, not necessarily at administration or board

Introduction
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One of the policy functions of a board is overseeing business strategy, specifically the allocation of resources to key functional activities (Westphal, Seidel, Stewart, 2001) Some argue trustees’ with professional knowledge base creates synergy – leads to more effective leadership

Introduction
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Others argue that the more alike the corporations represented on a university’s board and the disciplines in which it conducts research become, the more potential for COI
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Trustees set strategic policy for both, yet have differing interests, incentives & priorities

Introduction
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Definitions:
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Corporate/University Connection: individual sits on board of both university and a publicly traded company Top 3 Science Corporate Connections: The 3 most represented science disciplines (defined by NSF) of corporate connections #1 Field of Research: The university science discipline (defined by NSF) which had the highest amount of research expenditures ($) Crosswalk: Corporate NAICS classification code matched to CIP Classification of academic programs

Research Questions
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Do the disciplines in which a university conducts research align with the types of corporations represented on its board of trustees? Does this change over time?

Data
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AAU Private Institutions (N=26) 2 Time points: 1997 & 2005 Data
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Board members & corporations:
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Slaughter, Feldman, & Thomas NIH grant Mathies, NSF Grant: NSF R&D expenditures at college & university survey

Research expenditures
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Crosswalk: NAICS  CIP

NAICS  CIP Crosswalk
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2 Approaches
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Conservative: Type of organization/corporation (what does the corporation do?) Liberal: Field of operation for organization/corporation (what field does the corporation operate in?) NAICS: # 325412 – Pharmaceutical preparation manufacturing Conservative CIP: #14 Engineering Liberal CIP: #26 Biological & biomedical sciences

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Example: Pfizer
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Findings – Summary
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No change in the number of trustees Significantly fewer number of connections between corporate boards & university boards No difference in the proportion of connections to corporations in science fields Increased alignment between disciplines in which university conducts research and the disciplines of corporations universities are connected Increase in the proportion of research expenditures from disciplines connected to corporations

Findings – Trustees & Connections
1997 # of Trustees Mean # of Trustees # of Corporate Connections Mean Corporate Connections 1193 46 1342 51.6 2005 1189 46 881 33.9

Findings – Corporate connections
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Majority of institutions experienced a decline in the number of corporate connections from 1997 to 2005 (t = 5.5, p<.001)
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23 of 26 institutions experienced a decline (88%)
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1997 – mean # of connections 51.6 2005 – mean # of connections 33.9

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Mean decline 33%; largest decline 61% Largest increase was 4 connections, representing a 27% increase

Findings – Proportion of connections to science corporations
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No significant difference in the proportion of connections to corporations in science disciplines from 1997 to 2005 (C; t=-.487, p>.63) (L; t=-.663, p>.51)
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Slight increase in the mean proportion of .01 for both the conservative and liberal perspective Conservative:
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13 of 26 (50%) universities experienced a decrease; mean decrease was .09 with the largest being .19 13 of 26 (50%) universities experienced an increase; mean increase was .12 with the largest being .25 9 of 26 (35%) universities experienced a decrease, mean decrease was .13, with largest being .27 17 of 26 (65%) universities experienced an increase, mean increase was .09, with largest being .34

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Liberal:
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Findings – Proportion of connections to science corporations
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Based only on the top 3 science disciplines of universities’ connections to corporations Similar result – T-Test, accept null hypothesis: There is no significant difference (C, T = -.489, p > .62; L, T = .979, p>.33) Increase in the mean proportion was .01 (C) and .02 (L) respectively Conservative
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13 universities (50%) experienced a decrease 13 universities (50%) experienced an increase 10 universities (38%) experienced a decrease 16 universities (62%) experienced an increase

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Liberal
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Findings – Alignment top disciplines
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Weak alignment between # 1 discipline of research (expenditures) & # 1 science discipline of corporate connections  Conservative:
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1997 – 2 of 26 institutions (8%) 2005 – 2 of 26 institutions (8%) 1997 – 3 of 26 institutions (12%) 2005 – 6 of 26 institutions (23%)

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Liberal:
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Findings – Alignment top disciplines
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Increase in the alignment between # 1 discipline of research (expenditures) & one of the top 3 science disciplines of corporate connections  Conservative:
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1997 – 13 of 26 institutions (50%) 2005 – 17 of 26 institutions (65%) 1997 – 17 of 26 institutions (65%) 2005 – 23 of 26 institutions (89%)

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Liberal:
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Findings - #1 discipline of research
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The proportion of universities’ # 1 discipline of research of total research expenditures increased from 1997 to 2005 (t = -5.031, p < .001)
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Mean proportion of # 1 research field of total research expenditures
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1997 – 59% 2005 – 64%

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22 of 26 institutions (85%) experienced an increase

Findings – Research Expenditures
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Increase in universities’ research expenditures within the top 3 science disciplines represented through corporate connections
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Conservative:
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Mean increase from 47% in 1997 to 55% in 2005, was not statistically significant (T = -1.290, p>.20) Mean increase from 58% in 1997 to 76% in 2005, was statistically significant (T = -2.531, p<.019)

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Liberal:
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Possible explanation: large growth between 1997 and 2005 nationally in RE from Federal sources came in life sciences & engineering Life Sciences & engineering were the most common disciplines represented in top 3 – all in sample had 1 or both in top 3

Conclusions
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Same # of trustees, fewer connections to publicly traded corporations
Overall there are fewer connections to corporations in sciences disciplines – however, the proportion of connections remained stable Increasing alignment between the disciplines in which a university conducts research & the science disciplines of the corporations represented on university boards
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Particularly from Liberal perspective; growth at both the #1 to #1 and the #1 to Top 3 Strong alignment (89% L, 65% C) between the fields of the #1 discipline of research of university and the top 3 science disciplines of corporate connections

Conclusions
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Increase in the proportion of total research expenditures coming from the #1 discipline of research
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Proportion grew 5% (59% to 64%) University research becoming more narrowly focused?

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Increase in the proportion of total research expenditures from the top 3 science disciplines of corporate connections of total research expenditures
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Significant from Liberal perspective – growth was 18% from 58% to 76% Growth from Conservative was 8% from 47% to 55%

Conclusions
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The more the profiles of universities and the boards become the same, the more chance for a conflict of interest Scenarios:
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Investment for university infrastructure – might go where research $ is located, not necessarily where students are Trustees using university research for corporate scheme (direct use, first user advantages, etc.) Trustees steering corporate investment in start-ups, increasing $ in a specific area of research

Limitations & Future Research
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Limitations
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Date drawn only from AAU privates Crosswalk between NAICS – SIC – SOC – CIP Both 1997 & 2005 Corporations NAICS classifications based on 2007 data
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Impact of mergers & acquisitions

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Future Research
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Day jobs of university trustees Seats on private corporations for university trustees Institutional foundation trustees (publics?)

The End


				
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