Does academic consulting require any research? Examining the relationship between research funding and academic consulting

Pablo D'Este, Francesco Rentocchini, Liney Manjarrés-Henríquez, Rosa Grimaldi
This paper investigates the relationship between the sources of funding for research activities and the engagement of scientists in one specific type of knowledge transfer: academic consulting. By relying on a sample of 2603 individual faculty, from five Spanish universities, who have been recipients of publicly funded grants or have been principal investigators in activities contracted by external agents over the period 1999-2004, we find a positive effect of research funding on the amount of consulting contracts obtained by academic scientists. We also find that both networking and signalling effects are present and contribute to explain the amount of consulting activity acquired by academic scientists. By offering evidence of a positive correlation between the volume of academic consulting and different types of extramural research funding, our paper shows that: a) consulting is largely a function of strong involvement in research, knowledge-generation activities; b) the positive connection is particularly strong for the social sciences, where the type of knowledge transferred is more likely to be conceptual and symbolic than instrumental.