n African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development - Universities and think-tanks as partners in the African knowledge economy : insights from South Africa

Volume 7, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 2042-1338
  • E-ISSN: 2042-1346
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There is a paucity of knowledge regarding the nature of interactions between universities and think-tanks in Africa and how their collaboration could be promoted to enable them to contribute more effectively to the knowledge economy. Relying on primary and secondary data, this paper explores the interaction between universities and think-tanks in South Africa. The study found that most think-tanks, university departments and individuals in these institutions have engaged in collaborative relations of some sort and that the level and nature of their collaboration has generally been increasing over the past five years. In addition, the existence of personal relationships between individuals in these institutions usually acts as the main catalyst for long-lasting collaboration on research and policy engagement. In cases where the relationships are formalised at the institutional level, it is crucial to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the two parties. Overall, collaboration between universities and think-tanks enables utilisation of different but complementary sets of skills and resources. This leads to more robust knowledge production and policy engagement. Therefore, appropriate incentives and an enabling environment should be created to enhance both individual and institutional collaboration.

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