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Developing a Framework for a Viable Research University

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A research university is a multi-mission organisation involved in education, research, and innovation that supports both the social development and economic well-being of the society. Therefore, good management of a research university is of strategic importance. However, to date, extant literature has centred on the functional aspects of research universities (namely education, research, and commercialisation), and less on the systems view of university operations. To fill this lacuna in the literature, this study proposes a general systems framework for a viable research university. The study first reviews literature on the functions and purposes of research universities. It then utilises the viable system model (VSM) as a modelling tool to develop a systemic framework for viable research universities. This proposed framework allows a comprehensive view of the functions of research universities thereby helping university management develop the necessary capabilities and allocate the appropriate resources toward achieving its mission.

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The study was funded by a UKM-PTS research Grant, Code No. PTS-2013-157. The authors wish to thank Siti Farah Dilla Zakaria, Norela Ahmad, Nur Sa’adah Muhamad, Siti Khadijah Mohd Ghanie, and Saida Farhanah Sarkam of UKM-Graduate School of Business, for their research assistance.

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Correspondence to Khairul Akmaliah Adham.

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Adham, K.A., Kasimin, H., Mat Isa, R. et al. Developing a Framework for a Viable Research University. Syst Pract Action Res 28, 503–525 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11213-015-9341-8

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  • Research university
  • Viable system model
  • Systems thinking
  • Higher education