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Quality and collaboration

Dr Adrian Tootell
School of Management, Operations and Marketing

Uniting industry and universities and building relationships

Collaboration between universities and industry can be tricky to establish, and even harder to maintain when the motivators for partnership are often at opposite ends of the innovation spectrum. The perceived ideals of industry wanting to only make a profit and academia focussing on reputation and results hinder progress before it has even really begun.

Dr Adrian Tootell, lecturer and researcher in the fields of management, quality systems and operations, wants to bridge the gap of understanding between universities and industry to ensure communication channels are open, and a shared value system can be found. At the same time he wants to encourage a better value proposition for consumers and communities, through the establishment of an informed framework and standards.

With 25 years of industry experience under his belt, Dr Tootell understands the challenges that businesses, management, shareholders and other stakeholders encounter. During his time in the manufacturing sector he experienced several business closures, and despite improvements to processes and general consumer satisfaction, macroeconomic factors continued to create uncertainty. Industry was simply trying to stay afloat, limiting the creation of world-changing innovations, much to the detriment of Australia and its workforce.


By researching the role of relationship marketing to initiate and develop ‘innovation relationships’ between universities and industry, Dr Tootell believes that rigorous scientific research can translate into ambitious new products in competitive domestic and global environments.

“We’ve been looking at how we can incorporate best practice into handbooks and reference material to educate the marketplace of the possibilities. We want to create a conversation and show how collaborators can have an impact - and demonstrate that universities are a source of collaboration, and perhaps can drive innovation for some community needs,” Dr Tootell says.

With his professional experience and his research understanding, Dr Tootell has found himself well-placed to represent UOW and businesses on the Standards Australia committee for Quality Systems (QR-008). This committee is responsible for providing input into the development of international and Australian standards on quality management systems and related documents, commonly referred to as the ISO 9000 group. His input particularly focussed on quality management and guidance for organisations to achieve sustained success.

Within the committee, Dr Tootell represents a group of stakeholders across research and academic organisations, says Catherine Dunkerley, the Senior Stakeholder Engagement Manager with Standards Australia.

“By participating internationally he represents Australia beyond academia to all stakeholder groups from technical and professional and employer associations to industry and government – for the net benefit to Australia and its citizens,” she says.

“The work of Dr Tootell, and others like him, confirms Australia as a good global citizen in supporting organisations in other countries in the development of their Quality Management Systems.”