Russian Universities’ Third Mission: A Trend towards (Non)commercialization?

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The idea of developing universities’ third mission, which lies in their contribution to the social and economic development of the region, city, and the whole country, has taken one of the central places in the research and management agenda of higher education in Russia. Despite the growing scientific and practical interest in this topic, the concept of the third mission has not been formed yet. Consequently, there is no clear understanding of how the academic community understands the role and meaning of the third mission. This paper aims at studying how students and staff members of one Russian national research university understand the third mission. Within this research, we conducted a series of focus groups with the university staff and students in 2021, the sample consisting of 74 informants. For data processing, there was used content analysis. The results showed vast differentiation of the informants’ views on the idea and objectives of the university’s third mission. For most of the respondents, the third mission equals the social mission. However, some also see it as an opportunity for professional development. Only a tenth of all the interviewees consider the third mission as an indicator of the university’s success and prestige. At the same time, the commercial component of this mission, which prevails in foreign universities, has been noted only by two informants. The study conducted might be of use for administrators and managers of Russian universities, as well as for researchers interested in developing the social involvement of students and university staff.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-37
JournalUniversity Management Practice and Analysis
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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