The research enterprise of a leading academic institution is a complex system of human, physical and digital infrastructures that functions to support the production of new knowledge and the advancement and training of research practitioners.
When I first read this quote I thought it was exactly the type of statement you would see on Michigan’s website. It’s the kind of statement I see and generally feel as it is a bunch of fluff said to a board of directors. However, upon further reflection the two aspects of the quote that strike me the most are “research enterprise” part and “the advancement and training of research practitioners.”
When I hear the word enterprise, I usually think of major corporations and specifically their software, culture, and bureaucracy. These are bloated aspects of a major corporation that generally do not allow them to be nimble, fast, and as efficient as possible. Now the quote could be using enterprise in the sense that it is a difficult project, but to me and I think a lot of other people the word enterprise singles a bloated mammoth corporation such as Microsoft. This is an issue because research is constantly changing and I think a research institution, specifically the researchers, should be working in a lean, nimble organization. This organization should allow them to move as quickly as they can to accomplish their research with the fewest number of obstacles in their way. And the fact that they pair themselves with the word enterprise, in my mind is a very big problem.
Finally, I am not so confident if one of the major goals and mission of the research arm of a leading academic institution is to support “the advancement and training of research practitioners.” I am not saying that should not be a goal of the organization, but I am just not so sure if it should be a primary goal or rather a secondary goal. Instead another primary goal should be about how the research can potentially benefit society in many ways. Besides producing knowledge, I think one of the primary functions of a research institution is producing a lot of knowledge or just stuff that can benefit society in many ways.