Advances in Applied Sociology
2014. Vol.4, No.1, 20-23
Published Online January 201 4 in SciRes (
Positioning Mbeya University of Science and Technology in
Tanzania in the Systems of Innovation Perspective
Zacharia Katambara
Department of Civil Engineering, Mbeya University of Science and Technology, Mbeya, Tanzania
Received October 6th, 2013; revised November 6th, 2013; accepted November 13th, 2013
Copyright © 2014 Zacharia Kata mbara. This is an open access article distribu ted under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which pe rmits unrestricted use, distribu tion, and reproductio n in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited. In accordance of the Creative Commons Attribution License all Copyrights ©
2014 are reserved for SCIRP and the owner of the intellectual property Zacharia Katambara. All Copyright ©
2014 are guarded by law and by SCIRP as a guardian.
The chronological development of universities ranges from the state at which universities are considered
to be knowledge accumulators followed by knowledge factories and finally the knowledge hubs. The
various national systems of innovations are aligned with the knowledge hubs and it involves a substantial
amount of research activities. The newly es tablished Mbeya Univer sity of Science and Techno logy is recog-
nised as a knowledge hub in some particular niches. However, there are a limited number of research ac-
tivities conducted at the university and this study is an attempt to identify the reasons that limit research
activities. Well-structured research questionnaires were designed and distributed to academic staff mem-
bers and thereafter the respondents were analysed by using SPSS software package. The lack of knowl-
edge, skills and funds as well as equipment was earmarked as the reason that hindered the research activi-
ties. Therefore, resources are required to improve the capabilities of the staff members and the study
recommends on the need for deliberate efforts to improve the knowledge of the staff members with re-
spect to research activities.
Keywords: Mbeya University of Science and Technology; 3rd Generation Universities; Knowledge;
Attitude; Perception
The national system of innovation constitutes several ele-
ments as well as their appropriate relationships which include
the production, diffusion, use, as well as transformation of new
and economically useful knowledge (Asheim & Isaksen, 2002;
Freeman, 1995; Lundval, 2007; Mwamila & Diyamett, 2006).
Among these elements are the national education systems (uni-
versities, research centres, scientific and technical institutes),
industrial relations, government policies and cultural traditions.
Mbeya University of Science and Technology (MUST) is one
such university located in Mbeya, Tanzania. Its major roles
among others include training of students who will be respon-
sive to the existing challenges at national and international
levels through the application of science and technology, con-
ducting research activities that contribute to the knowledge on
poorly understood issues as well as offering consultancy ser-
vices that adequately respond to the socioeconomic needs of
the nation (MUST, 2013). As such, the establishment of niches
that adequately respond to the needs of the nation in a sustain-
able manner is imperative. The evolving university context and
missions discussed by Youtie and Shapira (2008) show a time-
line of three models of universities. These models are known as
traditional, present and evolving. The traditional model posi-
tioned universities as the knowledge accumulators (storehouses)
with limited interaction with the rest of the society. The present
model which started in the beginning of the nineteenth century
witnessed the emergence of knowledge factories where univer-
sities were the supplies of the input and output of the needed
technology. Lastly, the evolving model is also called the 3rd
Generation Universities and it considers universities as knowl-
edge hubs and the institutions are integrated in an intelligent
manner to promote indigenous development and new capabili-
ties (Tjakraatmadja et al., 2008; Youtie & Shapira, 2008). In
another perspective that supported the evolving model, Tjak-
raatmadja et al. (2008) noted that knowledge sharing was the
only tool for the survival of any Academic, Business or Gov-
ernment (ABG) organization. Mwamila and Diyamett (2006)
explicitly discussed the role of universities in Tanzania with
respect to the national system of innovation, which was in line
with the 3rd Generation Universities. For newly established
universities like Mbeya University of Science and Technology,
contributions towards the socioeconomic development need to
be pronounced within the three pillars (research, consultancy
and teaching) so as to be in line with prospects of the 3rd Gen-
eration Universities.
Although the recently developed organisation structure of
Mbeya University of Science and Technology suggests other-
wise, currently the University has nine academic departments.
Among these departments, six departments offer ordinary di-
ploma, undergraduate programmes and in the near future post-
graduate programmes will be offered. The other three are: Con-
tinuing Education Department which deals with all short
courses, some of which are tailor-made, the MUST Consul-
tancy Bureau which is involved with all consultancy activities
and the Department of Research and Publication which deals
with all research and publication activities. For monitoring and
accountability purposes, all consultancy and research projects
conducted by MUST are registered under the respective de-
partments. With respect to publications, both consultancy and
research activities have the potential to be published when the
executors have the intention to publish. In addition, when a
comparison is done on the number of research projects regis-
tered with the Department of Research and Publication and the
consultancy projects registered with MUST Consultancy Bu-
reau (MCB), the difference is substantial as such: the number of
research activities lags behind. Challenges that contribute to the
limited publications as well as the lag in research activities need
to be dealt with in manner that seeks to increase the annual
number of journal publications and increase research related
projects that lead to promoting innovations that are highly need-
ed for developing nations like Tanzania.
Promoting these innovation related activities requires appro-
priate measures targeted at the upcoming researchers and the
university in general. At university level, an analysis of existing
policies needs to be done so as to identify the gaps that need to
be dealt with in order to create conducive environment. At in-
dividual level, the knowledge, attitude and perception with
respect to outreach activities (research and consultancy) con-
ducted by the academic staff members need to be studied.
Several studies that have involved the knowledge, attitude
and perception of various issues have been conducted world-
wide (Abasiubong et al., 2009; Adediwura & Tayo, 2007; An-
jum et al., 2008; Erhum et al., 2008; Tj akraatmadja et al., 2008).
For instance, in India the knowledge, perception, attitude of
adolescent girls towards STIs/HIV and safer sex education were
done and indicated the need to implement gender-based sex
education (McManus & Dhar, 2008). In another study, the
knowledge, attitude and perception of water pipe smoking were
done in Pakistan (Anjum et al., 2008) and the study indicated
that pipe smoking was prevalent among high socio-economic
groups due to cost, accessibility and availability. The situation
has improved after introducing health awareness sessions. In
Nigeria, the knowledge, attitude and perception were consid-
ered as the predictor of academic performance in schools (Ade-
diwura & Tayo, 2007). The knowledge of the symptoms of
malaria, attitude towards preventive measures as well as treat-
ment seeking behaviours among members of the Ile-Ife com-
munity in south-western Nigeria were conducted (Erhum et al.,
2008). The study concluded that public enlightenment efforts
needed to be intensified, effective malaria preventive methods
should be affordable, and support should be provided to make
malaria treatments at hospitals free (Erhum et al., 2008). In this
regard, there are limited studies that have looked at the knowl-
edge, attitude and perception towards the execution of research
projects in academic institutions. Therefore, the objective of
this study is to assess the knowledge, attitude and perception of
the upcoming researchers at Mbeya University of Science and
Technology in conducting research related activities.
Instrument a nd Method
In addition to the review of the existing policies, the extent of
knowledge with respect to executing research activities, the
associated attitude and as well as the perception of the upcom-
ing researchers at MUST, it was found necessary to conduct a
study to identify the reason behind the limited research activi-
ties. The study was conducted at the university campus and
targeted the academic staff members whose education level is
equal to, or above bachelor degree. Questionnaires designed to
capture all the necessary issues with regards to research were
designed and circulated. A covering letter accompanied the
questionnaire with an introduction and explanation of the pro-
ject and the required information that will thereafter be used to
enable the university to take necessary measures in alleviating
the identified issues. The number of questionnaires adminis-
tered to the staff members was 127 which was the actual popu-
lation of the staff members during the study period. The col-
lected data was analysed using the SPSS software package. In
addition, focus group discussions were held to further gather
more information.
Results and Discussion
Characteristic of the Responde nts
Although the number of the questionnaires distributed was
127, the number of respondents was 30 which represent 24%.
The high non-response rate suggests that the staff members
may have lacked confidence in this study and considered the
process as another fruitless exercise or maybe staff apathy.
With respect to the respondents’ characteristics, 73.4% of the
respondents were aged between 30 and 49 year old. Majority
(70%) of the respondents were male and is in line with current
trend of composition where females are less their male staff
members. Majority of the respondents where staff members
whose level of education is Master’s degree (57%) and bache-
lor degree (43%) (Table 1). The approach used involved hard-
copies of the questionnaires. Another suitable approach that
would have been used by the study should have involved online
survey distributed via e-mail.
Perception on the Advantages of Research Activities
Considering the advantages associated with research activi-
ties, majority of the staff members consider research activities
as among the processes of gaining knowledge (67%) so as to
improve their capabilities in handling issues under high de-
manding environments (Table 2). About 57% of the respon-
dents consider research activities to be suitable for socio-eco-
nomic development of a society and the nation as a whole. On
the other hand and for personal gains, 50% of the respondents
consider research activities are suitable for career development
and promotion purposes. With respect to the use of research
outputs for policy formulation, only 37% agree with the state-
ment. This suggests that academic staff members have varying
degree knowledge as well as the attitude towards research ac-
tivities. In general, research activities do require some demon-
strations in creativeness and innovativeness and is time de-
Table 1.
Response based on education level.
Education level Frequency (%)
Bachelor 13 (43.3)
Masters 17 (56.7)
PhD -
Table 2.
The importance of research activities.
Description strongly agree agree Not sure disagree Strongly disagree
For career development 15 (50%) 12 (40%) 1 (3.3%) 1 (3. 3%) 1 (3.3%)
For promotion 8 (26.7%) 15 (50%) 5 (16.7%) 1 (3.3%) 1 (3.3%)
For adding k nowledge 20 (66.7%) 4 (13.3%) 4 (13.3%) 1 (3.3%) 1 (3.3%)
For improve ment of vari ous activiti es of the organization 13 (43.3%) 12 (40%) 2 (6.7%) 3 (10%) -
For socio-economic development of the c ount r y 17 (56.7%) 9 (30%) 3 (10%) - 1 (3.3%)
For policy form ula tion 11 (36.7%) 10 (33.3%) 6 (20%) 2 (6.7%) 1 (3.3%)
manding. When compared to consultancy services a similar
approach may be applied somewhere else but the remunerations
are higher than those obtained from undertaking research ac-
tivities. However, research activities involves the developed the
tools some of which are usually used when conducting consul-
tancy activities.
Publishing and Its Challenges
On the other hand, in academic arena as discussed in several
studies (Clapham, 2005; Jones, 1997; Ali, 2012) the phrase
“Publish or perish” has been used to researchers and academi-
cians to describe the need to publish their research works.
However, it does not take into consideration other aspects such
the working environment which significantly contributes to the
quantity and quality of publications. The lack of publication for
academician indicates the injustice committed to fellow acade-
micians by denying them to learn from your work experience as
such the researchers keep the gained knowledge to themselves.
In this regard, the respondents indicated that only 23.3% are
published while 76.7 are unpublished (Table 3). Some of the
reasons for not publishing are shown in Table 4 in percentage
wise. Among these reasons include 1) limited funding 43.3%; 2)
lack of proper guidance from senior staff (26.7%); 3) limited
knowledge and skill to carryout research (20%); limited time
allocated for research activities (17%) and lack of motivation
The respondents indicated three main challenges as indicated
in Table 5. These include limited of funds to undertake re-
search, lack of scientific knowledge and skills as well as limited
research facilities. Although, the lack of scientific knowledge
and skills was ranked the second, however, the knowledge and
skills plays an important role which includes the ability to write
a winning research proposal and the subsequent implementation
of the proposal. Once this is achieved, the limited funds as well
as limited facilities will be reduced since the research budget
does cover the necessary facilities, however it also depends on
the supporting organisation.
Focus Group Discussion
With regards to the need for conducting research, it was re-
alized that the limited knowledge on preparing a winning re-
search proposal was a challenge. In addition, there is a need to
have a database of the published papers in the library where
upcoming researchers can learn from. It was identified that
there is a need to establish research units based on selected
niches such as climate change group, water research unity,
materials research unity and other similar units. With such units
Table 3.
Status of published staff members.
Status Frequency (percentage)
7 (23.3)
23 (76.7)
Total 30 (100%)
Table 4.
Reason for the academic staff not publishing.
Reasons for not publishing Frequency (Percentage)
Lack of fund 13 (43.3)
Lack of proper guidance from seni or staff 8 (26.7)
Lack of scientific knowledge/skills 6 (20%)
Inadequate time allocated for research activities 5 (17)
Lack of motivation 3 (10)
Table 5.
Challenges faced by upcoming researchers.
Challenges Frequency (percentage)
Lack of fund 14 (46.7)
Lack of scientific knowledge/skills 12 (40)
Lack of research facilities 6 (20)
in place, noticeable contribution to development will be real-
Opportunities, Challenges and Implication for MUST
Being a 3rd Generation University
Mbeya University of Science and Technology has been re-
cently established, as such, the university intends to expand its
facilities as well as the programmes and community outreach
activities. In this regard, the design and the subsequent imple-
mentation of the designed facilities should take into considera-
tion the future demands in offering education for sustainable
development. However this has some financial implications and
other resources as well. Majority of the respondents are either
Bachelor or Master’s Degree holders, there is a need to develop
these upcoming researchers so as to be equip them with the
appropriate knowledge that culminate to the increase in number
of research activities. With respect to this, the major challenge
is on how to design a suitable mode of identifying the willing
and unselfish tender hearts which will spearhead the research
activities in a sustainable manner for the benefit of the sur-
rounding communities and beyond. Several universities have
been in existence, and they have various degrees of experience
in offering education, MUST has an opportunity to learn from
the challenges experienced by other universities and thereafter
build from these experiences. When this is implemented ac-
cordingly, chances of using fewer resources (time, money and
material) exist since it will only be on critical review on ex-
periences. Also, there will be less chances of falling into similar
mistakes that were experienced by older universities. When
these are taken into consideration MUST’s contribution will be
Conclusion and Recommendation
The study attempted to review the chronological develop-
ment of universities and the position of universities in the in-
novation systems. The 3rd Generation Universities’ systems are
integrated in an intelligent manner to promote indigenous de-
velopment and new capabilities and therefore they require re-
search activities be conducted. The number of research activi-
ties conducted at MUST as well as publications is low. An at-
tempt to identify the reasons behind this was done by using
questionnaires and the respondents were analysed by using
SSPS software package. The lack of knowledge, skills and
funds as well as equipments was earmarked as the reason that
hindered the research activities. Therefore resources are re-
quired to improve the capabilities of the staff members, and the
study recommends on the need for deliberate effort to improve
the knowledge of the staff members with respect to research
activities. On the other hand, learning from experiences gained
by other universities will walk a long way in reducing resource
use and increas ing chances of success.
Acknowledgemen ts
The author acknowledges the support received from the
Mbeya University of Science and Technology. Comments re-
ceived are also acknowledged.
Abasiubo ng, F., Ekott, J., B assey, E., & Nyong, E. (2009). Knowledge,
attitude and perception of ep ilepsy among traditional healers in Uyo,
Nigeria. Global Journal of Community Medicine, 2, 39-46.
Adediwura, A., & Tayo, B. (2007). Perception of teachers’ knowledge
attitude and teaching skills as predictor of academic performance in
Nigerian secondary schools. Educational Research and Review, 2,
Ali, S. A. (2012). Publish and perish. IMSMAGAZINESUMMER, 30.
Anjum, Q., Ahmed, F., & Ashfaq, T. (2008). Knowledge, attitude and
perception of water pipe smoking (Shisha) among adolescents aged
14-19 years. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, 58,
Asheim, B. R. T., & Isaksen, A. (2002). Regional innovation systems:
the integration of local “sticky” and global ubiquitousknowledge.
The Journal of Technology Transfer, 27, 77-86.
Clapham, P. (2005). Publish or perish. BioScience, 55, 390-391.[0390:POP]2.0.CO;2
Erhun, W., Agbani, E., & Adesanya, S. (2006). Malaria prevention:
Knowledge, attitude and practice in a southwestern Nigerian com-
munity. African Journal of Biomedical Research, 8, 25-29.
Freeman, C. (1995). The national system of innovation in historical
perspective. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 19, 5-24.
Jones, G. (1997). Publish or perish. Canadian Medical Association
Journal, 156, 1382-1383.
Lundvall, B. Ã. (2007). National innovation systems-analytical concept
and developm ent tool. Industry and Innovation, 14, 95-119.
McManus, A., & Dhar, L . (2008). Study of knowledge, perception and
attitude of adolescent girls towards STIs/HIV, safer sex and sex edu-
cation: A cross sectional survey of urban adolescent school girls in
South Delhi, India. BMC Womens Health, 8, 12.
MUST (2013). Mbeya University of Science and Technology Profile.
Mbeya: MUST.
Mwamila, B., & Diyamett, B. (2006a). Developing universities–The
evolving role of academic institutions in Tanzania. UniDev Discus-
sion Paper Series Paper no. 7. Lund University, Research Policy In-
Mwamila, B., & Diyamett, B. (2006b). The position of higher educa-
tion in the national system of innovation: The case of Tanzania. 5th
International Congress on Hi gher Education, Cuba.
Tjakraatmadja, J. H., Martini, L., & Wicaksono , A. (2008). Knowledge
sharing in the Indonesian context-institut teknologi Bandung (ITB)
as potential knowledge hub to create value from academia, business
and government linkages. Beyond the Knowledge Trap-Developing
Asiass Knowledge-Based Economies, 276-277.
Youtie, J., & Shapira, P. (2008). Building an innovation hub: A case
study of the transformation of university roles in regional techno-
logical and economic development. Research Policy, 37, 1188-1204.