How university-based principal investigators shape a hybrid role identity

O'Kane, Conor, Mangematin, Vincent, Zhang, Jing A. and Cunningham, James (2020) How university-based principal investigators shape a hybrid role identity. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 159. p. 120179. ISSN 0040-1625

TFSC O'Kane, Mangematin, Zhang and Cunningham .pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.

Download (645kB) | Preview
Official URL:


This paper examines the role identity of university based principal investigators (PIs), as well as the learning mechanisms that underpin this position. PIs have become the focus of increasing research attention which has argued that they, along with universities and funding bodies, form an increasingly crucial tripartite in public research environments. Although the PI position is well recognised among scientific peers and research institutions, a role identity is still emerging and remains ill-defined. This issue requires research attention as having a clear role identity is fundamental to performing a role effectively. Our analysis draws on interviews with 41 health science PIs in New Zealand to develop a PI role identity learning framework. We find that the PI role identity is made up of four roles – science networker, research contractor, project manager, and entrepreneur - that are mutually reinforcing throughout the research process, and which together form a hybrid science-business role identity. Furthermore, we identify two learning mechanisms – learning through experience and violation – and show how these are formative for role identity when transitioning to an ill-defined position. Based on our findings we discuss a number of practical implications for PIs, universities and funding bodies.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Learning, Principal investigators, Publicly funded science, Role identity, Entrepreneurship
Subjects: N100 Business studies
N200 Management studies
N600 Human Resource Management
X900 Others in Education
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2020 13:13
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2022 03:30

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics