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The Future of Knowledge Creation and Production in University Research Programs and Their Effect on University Libraries
Walters, Tyler O.
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The dissertation presents possible future directions for research programs at U.S. universities and their effects on the organization of universities and their libraries. The investigator posits four original scenarios produced for this study that describe Grand Challenge-level research program development in U.S. research universities. The scenarios articulate how these universities’ research enterprises might take part in an emerging global research ecosystem that is being shaped by economic, political, cultural, and technological forces. The university managerial leaders involved in research administration can utilize the scenarios in planning for how they might respond to certain forces and drivers effecting the development of their research programs. The leaders, in turn, may understand better the decisions to be made in moving a university forward strategically to realize its goals in the global research environment. The study also examines how the libraries of the participating universities may evolve based on scenario 1, “Thriving interdisciplinary research, solving global Grand Challenges,” which is the scenario most favored by the research directors. Four case studies are offered, produced from interviews with the case library directors. They highlight the directors’ approaches to managerial leadership and organizational culture change with a goal of producing a library that is relevant and vital to its university’s role in the developing global research ecosystem. New library roles are articulated, focusing on managing research outputs, supporting research and scholarly processes, developing technologies and content, and partnering with researchers on research teams and as consultants. The case studies reveal that the more vigorously adapting libraries are differentiated from the lesser adapting libraries according to the level of resources available, technology infrastructures in place, and strategic partnerships created and maintained. This study emphasizes the role of research and library directors in developing and communicating strategic directions to effect change in a U.S. university. Each library director’s response to the favored scenario gives insight into how libraries may approach transformation in the face of momentous change in the university research enterprise due to external drivers. Examining the impact of these drivers through scenarios developed from an institutional perspective aids administrators in planning for how their universities will respond.