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Research Report

Using the Corporate Relationship Management Cycle to Assess, Rightsize, and Grow Corporate Collaborations on Campus

What matters to industry partners and how to measure it

January 12, 2021

Key Insights

Industry partnerships closely connect colleges and universities with their communities and bring in much-needed revenue through research engagements, donated gifts, and customized training programs. To develop effective and prosperous partnerships, institutions must track and measure success to find the most viable engagement opportunities and determine how to expand existing industry relationships.

While most institutions count metrics like the dollar value of contracts and the number of engagements, many fail to measure historical trends and gather feedback from industry to meet their corporate partnership goals. Instead of focusing solely on disconnected relationships across campus and existing faculty connections, institutions need to think more strategically about their industry engagements to find partners who can engage with them in deeper and broader ways. The most progressive universities seek sustainable partnerships that engage multiple stakeholders across the institution over time.

However, this can be difficult for universities to accomplish due to existing internal barriers in sharing information across campus, limited resources for corporate relations staff, and inadequate investment in technological capabilities. Institutional departments and units are often siloed internally which can stifle collaboration and communication. Additionally, institutions create perverse incentives for their corporate relations staff by encouraging them to focus solely on dollars—in this structure, staff often pursue shorter-term and smaller corporate transactions and forgo potentially larger, more lucrative engagements. It can also be costly and challenging to implement new technology across campus to holistically measure industry partnerships.

If a university continues to track only monetary metrics, their institution will lose essential revenue from corporate engagements and forgo partnerships with industry leaders seeking strategic and individualized relationships. Despite these challenges, colleges and universities must start tracking measures beyond these foundational metrics to distinguish themselves from competitors, develop intentional corporate relationships, aid their regional economic efforts, and secure best-fit partnerships for the future.

This white paper is organized into three sections, by the level of progressiveness needed to measure the metrics in each stage of the Corporate Relationship Management Cycle: Fundamental metrics are the baseline and include monetary and outcomes-focused indicators most important to institutional leaders. Advanced metrics enable institutions to follow-up with and expand the most strategic industry partnerships available to them. Progressive metrics allow universities to improve existing engagements based on partner feedback and develop intentional marketing plans that highlight the institution’s unique strengths.

Insights and best practices for partners

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