Higher Education

, Volume 56, Issue 6, pp 685–698 | Cite as

The formation and development of co-operations among South African universities

  • Heinke RoebkenEmail author


Organizational collaboration is “en vogue”, especially in higher education. So far, little is known about the mechanisms that explain co-operation formation and their impact on the social structure of the research systems. By examining co-authored research papers written at South African universities between 1966 and 2006, co-operation structures are visualized and analyzed from a social network perspective. Regression analysis indicates that status homophily and geographical proximity help to explain attachment processes among universities. Policy makers looking to overcome the steep status hierarchies among South African institutions of higher education need to provide incentives for establishing a stronger research culture in previously disadvantaged institutions. This will enhance their attractiveness for co-operation with reputable organizations and contribute to more equality among institutions.


University co-operations Network analysis South Africa Homophily Research partnerships 


  1. Balconi, M., Breschi, S., & Lissoni, F. (2004). Networks of inventors and the role of academia—an exploration of Italian patent data. Research Policy, 33, 127–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bonacich, P. (1972). Factoring and weighting approaches to status scores and clique identification. Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 2, 113–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borgatti, S. P., Everett, M. G., & Freeman, L. C. (2002). Ucinet for windows: Software for social network analysis. Harvard, MA: Analytic Technologies.Google Scholar
  4. Burris, V. (2004). The academic caste system: Prestige hierarchies in PhD exchange networks. American Sociological Review, 69, 239–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burt, R. S., & Minor, M. J. (1983). Applied network analysis—a methodological introduction. Beverley Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Cloete, N. (2004). Equity and development in post-apartheid South African higher education. In N. Cloete, P. Pillay, S. Badat, & T. Moja (Eds.), National policy and a regional response in South African higher education (pp. 51–80). Oxford, UK: James Curray.Google Scholar
  7. Cohen, J. (1977). Sources of peer group homogeneity. Social Education, 50, 227–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P., & Trow, M. (1994). The new production of knowledge. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Graff, G., Herman, A., & Zilberman, D. (2002). University research and offices of technology transfer. California Management Review, 45, 88–115.Google Scholar
  10. Gran, T. (2002). Trust and power in land politics in South Africa. International Review of Administrative Science, 68, 419–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gulati, R. (1995). Social structure and alliance formation pattern: A longitudinal analysis. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 619–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gulati, R., & Gargiulu, M. (1999). Where do inter-organizational networks come from? The American Journal of Sociology, 104, 1439–1486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hanneman, R. A., & Riddle, M. (2005). Introduction to social network methods, online-resource. Downloadable at:
  14. Harber, C. (1998). Desegregation, racial conflict and education for democracy in the new South Africa: A case study of institutional change. International Review of Education, 44(5/6), 569–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hartshorne, K. (1996). Transforming higher education in South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 92, 271–274.Google Scholar
  16. Hausman, J., Bronwyn, H. H., & Griliches, Z. (1984). Economic models for count data with an application to the patents_R & D relationship. Econometrica, 52, 909–938.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jones, G., & George, J. (1998). The experience and evolution of trust: Implications for cooperation and teamwork. Academy of Management Review, 23(3), 531–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kandel, D. B. (1978). Homophily, selection and socialization in adolescent friendship. American Journal of Sociology, 84, 427–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Liao, T. (2000). Interpreting probability models: Logit, probit, and other generalized linear models. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Lincoln, J. R., & Miller, J. (1979). Work and friendship ties in organizations: A comparative analysis of relational networks. Administrative Science Quarterly, 84, 181–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Melin, G., & Persson, O. (1996). Studying research collaborations using co-authorship. Scientometrics, 36, 363–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mouton, J. (2000). Patterns of research collaboration in academic science in South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 96, 458–462.Google Scholar
  23. Mouton, J. (2003). South African science in transition. Science, Technology & Society, 8(2), 235–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Naidoo, J. (1996). Racial integration and public schools in South Africa. Durban: Education Policy Unit, University of Natal.Google Scholar
  25. Neckerman, H. (1996). The stability of social groups in childhood and adolescence: The role of the classroom social environment. Social Deviance, 5, 131–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Newell, S., & Swan, J. (2000). Trust and inter-organizational networking. Human Relations, 53, 1287–1328.Google Scholar
  27. Pfeffer, J., & Salancik, G. (1978). The external control of organizations: A resource dependence perspective. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  28. Röbken, H. (2004). Inside the knowledge factory––organizational change in business schools in Germany, Sweden, and the USA. Wiesbaden: Gabler.Google Scholar
  29. Röbken, H. (2007). Reputationshierarchien im Rekrutierungsnetzwerk von Habilitanden in der Betriebswirtschaftslehre. Die Betriebswirtschaft (DBW), 3, 319–334.Google Scholar
  30. Slaughter, S., & Leslie, L. L. (1997). Academic capitalism: Politics, policies, and the entrepreneurial university. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Tolbert, P. (1985). Institutional environments and resource dependence: Sources of administrative structure in institutions of higher education. Administrative Science Quarterly, 30, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tornquist, K. M., & Kallsen, L. A. (1994). Out of the ivory tower: Characteristics of institutions meeting the research needs of industry. Journal of Higher Education, 65, 523–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Turk-Bicakci, L., & Brint, S. (2005). University-industry collaboration: Patterns of growth for low- and middle-level performers. Higher Education, 49, 61–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wagner, C. S., & Leydesdorf, L. (2006). Measuring the globalization of knowledge networks. Conference Paper Submitted to Blue Sky II, September 2006.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Higher and Adult EducationStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations