Why does an insurmountable boundary seem to appear between the academia – mostly university students -- and industry? How can students cross that boundary? University students inevitably face many questions about their future. Some are pushed to answer existential questions i.e., where do you see yourself after graduation? Would you like to work in your hometown or somewhere else? What about an international career abroad? Would you prefer to work in the academia or in industry? Are you ready?
If you are still transitioning into adulthood, you face questions tough to answer because of their dichotomic character. When answering them you are expected to choose one or the other. There is no middle ground. Add to this the fast-paced changes that have reshaped the world and its economy.
Two obvious examples are the global COVID19 pandemic and the recent invasion of Ukraine. Supply chains have interrupted business and government by spawning shortages and price surges affecting many goods and services. The price of oil is hitting record highs; inflation rate has reached double digits in many parts of the world. Experts predict it will not subside at least until the beginning of 2023.
Such tectonic phenomena prove extremely burdensome for commerce. If we consider only the effects of COVID19, we learn that more than 200,000 businesses throughout the US were forced to permanently shut down. So, to survive, businesses are more than ever required to produce innovative ideas out of nowhere! Likewise for policy makers.
Therefore, this dire state of world affairs leads us to the only possible conclusion – that, like never before, we need innovative ideas, and we prefer sooner than later! But where do we find those ideas? Better yet, who can do the “magic” with groundbreaking solutions that will turn things for the better?
Perhaps we could turn to the intelligentsia -- the scholarly community -- to do the heavy lifting. Savo Heleta wrote a piece for The Conversation1 in which he argued that scholars have what it takes to change the world, but that they are not fulfilling this potential of theirs for one simple reason – they write in jargon and publish in journals that almost exclusively target their peers. There is no systematic attempt to make the academic ideas widely available, and more importantly, to make them concise and understandable for the audiences at large.
Although Heleta’s criticism has some merit, it could lead to the assumption that the ideas originating in the academia cannot make any dent whatsoever in real life, which is far from the truth. In fact, academic works have made some of the most profound impacts in the history of humankind. We mention only three here to highlight their grandeur and enduring influence:
- For example, would anyone dare to claim that Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations2 has remained confined to the scholarly realm? Quite the opposite, Smith’s work became a catalyst for today’s free-market economics.
- And The Female Eunuch3 by Germaine Greer shaped not only the feminist movement in more ways than one, but it also sent shockwaves across the political and cultural spectrum, resulting in the palpable change in women’s lives across the Western world.
- As well, although many would not mention it in a positive context, still no one in his/her right mind would deny that The Communist Manifesto4 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels has had an immeasurable influence on the political, philosophical, social, and cultural landscape of the 20th century.
The above three works are just a few examples of such powerful influences on the world. So, it seems that the scholars are not changing the world overwhelmingly, but they are doing so on rare occasions. When they do produce a work that is larger than life, it trickles down, entering all pores of society.
With all this in mind, you can somewhat adjust Heleta’s criticism. While some works originating from the academia end up transforming the world, most remain confined to the scholarly niche, outside of which their impact either does not exist or is limited. This does not mean that the ideas and arguments contained in those works are bad per se. But perhaps their creators (scholars) have not been targeting the right audiences. In other words, just because the scholarly peers do not recognize the potential of an idea or theory, does not mean that the fertile ground for the idea or theory does not exist. A few scholarly works transcend the world of academia on their own, but some may need a push. The scholar can provide that push by rewriting the work, adjusting it for the audiences at large and publishing it in a widely read medium.
But this still begs two questions:
- Why is the debate always focused on how the scholars’ works and ideas could be used to change the world?
- Why should the scholars exclusively be the influencers, and not, at least sometimes, on the receiving end of the ideas and influences?
Yes, the scholars do not change the world with their works every day! But when a blind squirrel manages to find a nut occasionally, it turns out to be a nut like no other. It is the legacy and the impact of a few scholarly works that should incentivize those who do not see themselves as academics to throw their ideas into the academic mix. After all, a good idea is a good idea, regardless of who invents it, or what the presentation method is.
Why not give JSCAN a try?
As you consider the observations above, you might want to visit the Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation (JSCAN),5 a scholarly publication of the World CC available to WorldCC members. In addition to publishing full-blown scholarly articles, JSCAN also publishes practice-oriented, short works. JSCAN guidelines6 refer to these articles as essays “which are shorter commentary pieces that aim to contribute insights, debates, and critical discussion in the fields of contracting and negotiation. Ideally essays should be around 3,000 words in length.7
The whole idea is simple – we as the editors-in-chief of JSCAN want to see the industry formulate its seeds of ideas and plant them in the scholarly garden. We want the scholars, when reading the works of their peers, to also be exposed to the views and ideas of the industry. By building a bridge between the academia and industry – perceived by some as worlds apart – we believe that we are following a recipe for success in generating new ideas that the world needs.
- Why does an insurmountable gap exist between the academia and industry?
- Why are scholars reluctant to tread in the non-academic world, and those who do work in the industry are too often terrified to confront or connect with the scholars?
Part of the answers, as implied above, lie in the dichotomies our bright young minds face. They enter academia or industry wherein they find no nuance or meaning. So, instead of taking this overly simplified and potentially harmful approach, we should advise students that they have a choice and it is not set in stone.
In fact, the boundaries between the academia and industry are not the Great Wall of China. When there is a need or a desire to spread one’s ideas in the other world, the boundary can indeed be crossed quickly and even permanently!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dr Boris Praštalo is Assistant Professor at the International University of Sarajevo, Faculty of Law where he teaches an array of courses, including Commercial Law, Private International Law, and Intellectual Property Law. In addition, he is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation (JSCAN), Editor of the IUS Law Journal, and is part of the team covering Europe at Kluwer Arbitration Blog. His book titled "Uniformity in the Application of the CISG: Analysis of the Problem and Recommendations for the Future" was published by Kluwer Law International in 2020. Besides his native Serbo-Croatian, he is fluent in English and Spanish, and has an intermediary knowledge of German.
Dr Patricia Živković is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Aberdeen, School of Law, where she teaches an array of courses, including International Commercial Arbitration, Negotiation Skills and The Regulation of Biometric Data and Profiling. In addition, she is an Associate Director of the Centre for Private International Law, Director of LLM Dispute Resolution, and a Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation (JSCAN). Her monograph titled "Cyber Law in Bosnia and Herzegovina" was published by Kluwer Law International in 2021.
Dr Rossana Ducato is Lecturer of IT Law and Regulation at the University of Aberdeen, School of Law. She is also research fellow at the UCLouvain Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire Droit Entreprise et Société (CRIDES), where she teaches on the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet course "Clinic on EU Digital Rights, Law and Design". Her research interests are always pursued in a comparative vein and range from Privacy and Data Protection to Consumer protection, Intellectual Property Law, Law and Design, and Law and Behavioural Science, with a special focus on the problems related to new technologies and their impact on society. She is the author of several peer-reviewed articles and chapters in scholarly books about issues related to law and technology with particular attention to the platform economy, Big and Open Data, cloud computing, drones, research biobanks, and health information technologies.
- Article in The Conversation titled Academics can change the world if they stop talking only to their peers
- Adam Smith and “The Wealth of Nations,” Investopedia commentary
- The Female Eunich by Germaine Greer, Wikipedia commentary
- The Communist Manifesto, Wikipedia commentary
- Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation (JSCAN) available to WorldCC members.
- JSCAN submission guidelines
- JSCAN essay guidelines.