A Proposition for industry-university collaboration in publishing in Ghana

One very important function of research is the change and development that comes from implementing its results and findings.[1] The discoveries of research, when applied, have contributed to scientific, industrial, economic and academicrevolutions.[2] Universities and research institutions have been responsible for carrying out research in various fields and industries. Universities as research facilities are responsible for knowledge creation and dissemination through research, education and training.[3] Businesses can also conduct their own research to support production, however, being one of its primary activities, universities are better suited to perform this role. They also have become the front liner in ‘knowledge-based innovation’ as a result, in the industries related to the various areas of learning and research. The innovation of academic institutions has influenced product and industry development in many fields. In publishing, research has resulted in many significant changes including the improvement of journal publishing withinnovations in journal development, storage and dissemination, and increasing access to journals with the development of instruments such as OJS. [2, 4]

In addition to research and teaching, universities are also supposed to establish relationships with industries and firms.[5] The relationships allow for the transfer of knowledgebetween the two groups. Universities primarily are sources of basic research.[3]   Enhanced collaborations with industry is required for applied research from basic research findings; this collaboration can be in different ways and be beneficial to both the industry and university.[6]

The publishing industry and academia also benefit from this industry-university collaboration. The Master of Publishingprogram at SFU achieves this with discussions and interaction with guest industry professionals who bring their unique perspective on the courses taught in the program to students.[7] At the University of Pretoria, South Africa, students in the BIS Specialising In Publishing programme also collaborate with industry professionals in managing publishing projects.[8]

The Department of Publishing Studies, KNUST, has been in existence since 1984 and has seen revisions to its structure and curriculum to suit industry knowledge and human resource requirements.[9] Being the only department of its kind in Ghana and West Africa, graduates from the program are prepared for a very specific niche; either printingtechnology, design and illustration or publishing administration. The Ghanaian publishing industry is very aware of the program. Industry-university collaboration hereis limited to sponsorship, internships and seminars. Sponsorship from the industry has been to support the department’s book reading clubs and book week activities[10]and entrepreneurship award for students with practicalbusiness ideas.[12] The department organises seminars for students in the 4th year of the program where industry professionals speak on selected topics. Finally, as part of the third year courses, students are expected to intern at publishing and printing firms for 3 months, which is made possible by the university-industry relationship.

The department possesses some ‘monopoly’ in the country and I believe that it should capitalise on this and expand its interactions by designing the program to be a direct source of knowledge for the industry. Santoro and Chakrabarti identify three dimensions of university-industry interactions; input, participation, outcomes.[6] At all 3 levels, some form of collaboration already exists and though these could be improved, collaboration with the department for research is lacking.

Knowledge from local contexts and references are important to the establishment and growth of local businesses due to differences in geography, economic strengths, political climate, human capital and demographics.[2] The Ghanaian publishing industry is still growing and needs industry support for basic research because research findings are specific to location, demographics etc. Access to such basic research will influence its application and further (applied) research for the industry. The department already has a database of undergraduate and postgraduate theses and projects of students from over 30 years and though some may be obsolete, they are a free source of information of the roots, experiences and activities of Ghana’s printing and publishing industry.

The Department of Publishing studies can basically become the knowledge hub of the industry. Researchers (members of faculty) in university faculties publish articles for theirpersonal areas of interests or based on the volume of available resources (time, funds etc.).[6] Financial aid from the industry can influence this trend and encourage faculty members to conduct more industry-driven research. One could however argue the integrity of the findings and it will require the honesty of all parties to the research to ensure this. The industry can also participate in the research by making their machines, staff, publications and any other resource available to students and lecturers to research trends, labour issues and health related issues amongst others.

Asafo in Kumasi is the printing and publishing centre of the Ashanti region. Located just 25 minutes from KNUST, the community has about 50 establishments operating as either publishers or printers.[10] The Publishing program at KNUSTis credited for this. Many graduates from the program have set up their own or work with a printing or publishing firm in the area. Some of these businesses frequently consult the department on production issues and also take a good number of students for the 3rd year internships. This just highlights the symbiotic relationship between the department, the industry and the community and why community-based research is so necessary.

Both the department and the businesses at Asafo have the advantage and social capital of geographical proximity [4],which benefits both parties. Economic activities are concentrated in the capital, Accra[12] and so a vibrant publishing industry means researchers from the department do not have to travel far for information, if they have to. The industry also has access to the department, staff and researchers for consultancy and human resources which is readily available.

Again, at the end of the 3rd year internship, students present a project or research report on the company. This, when thoroughly done, can be presented to the companies as a research report on a topic or issue they would select to be investigated by the students. The department can then particularly guide the students in writing this report so it is useful to the businesses. Staff, researchers and lecturers in the department have worked in the industry or have connections with the industry and c build upon these relationships for knowledge transfer.

“Building university–industry (U–I) relationships can be highly beneficial as this enriches and improves educational and research objectives and, according to Lantos (1994), helps to reduce the gap between the academic and business communities”.[5]


[1]   ​Marta Frasquet, Haydee´ Caldero´n and AmparoCervera. “University–industry collaboration from a relationship marketing perspective: an empirical analysis in a Spanish University.” High Educ, Springer Science+BusinessMedia, Published online: 1 October 2011, 64:85–98, DOI 10.1007/s10734-011-9482-3

[2]​Niccolo` Ghio, Massimiliano Guerini, Erik E. Lehmann and Cristina Rossi-Lamastra. “The emergence of the knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship.” Springer Science+Business Media. Published online: 29 May 2014

[3]​Erik E. Lehmann and Matthias Menter. “University–industry collaboration and regional wealth.” Springer Science+Business Media. Published online: 7 November 2015, 41:1284–1307, DOI 10.1007/s10961-015-9445-4)

[4] ​Irene Ramos-Vielba and Manuel Ferna´ndez-Esquinas. “Beneath the tip of the iceberg: exploring the multiple forms of university–industry linkages.” Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Published online: 2 December 2011_ 2011, 64:237–265, DOI 10.1007/s10734-011-9491-2

[5]​Michael D. Santoro and Alok K. Chakrabarti. “Building industry–university research centers: some strategic considerations.” International Journal of Management Reviews. September 1999, Volume 1, Issue 3,pp. 225244.

[6]​Master of Publishing. publishing.sfu.ca/master-of-publishing/. Accessed November 10, 2019.

[7]​University of Pretoria. BIS Specialising in Publishing.https://www.up.ac.za/information-science/article/1821944/bis-publishing. Accessed November 10, 2019.

[8]​KNUST Publishing Studies makes impact on industry. December 2009. https://www.mobile.graphicweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/KNUST-publishing-studies-programme-makes-impact-on-industry-172947. Accessed November 8, 2019.

[9]​Dean urges schools to make reading clubs compulsory. 2nd November, 2009. https://www.businessghana.com/site/news/general/123211/Dean-urges-schools-to-make-redaing-clubs-compulsory. Accessed November 8, 2019.

[10]​Asafo, Ashanti’s business hub. June 21, 2019. Daniel Kenu. https://www.graphiconline.com/news/general-news/ghana-news-asafo-s-business-hub.html. Accessed November 8, 2019.

[11]​Accra, National Capital. Britannicca.https://www.britannica.com/place/Accra. Accessed November 8, 2019.

[12]​3rd KNUST graduate wins 2019 KC AmeseEntrepreneurial Award. www.myjoyonline.com/news/2019/July-31st/……php. Accessed November 8, 2019.


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