The tradition for 120 years in North America, often unlike other areas, is that universities provide a full suite of education, research, and public service. In a generally populist society, research is an elitist activity. The unspoken bargain between the one-person one-vote populist worker and the PhD one-brown-sock one-blue-sock elitist professor is this: the university gets to do research as long as it also teaches the workers' kids and does good for the public. Commercial activities are usually, but not always, outgrowths of public service activities (someone comes to the professor looking for help for his small company; help is given; word spreads; an entrepreneurial professor sets up a fee schedule; if results are good, the service grows ...)
Anyway, IMHO, if a service bureau in its everyday work is literally unable to compete with the service offerings of North American universities, it has bigger problems related to the scope, scale, customer relationships, responsiveness, production quality and overhead of its operation.
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Managing Issues in Science and Technology
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