Advertisement

Higher Education

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 237–265 | Cite as

Beneath the tip of the iceberg: exploring the multiple forms of university–industry linkages

  • Irene Ramos-Vielba
  • Manuel Fernández-EsquinasEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article focuses on the wide variety of channels through which the process of knowledge transfer occurs. The overall objective is to show the complexity of relationships between researchers and firms in a university system, and to identify some specific factors that influence such interactions. Our case study involves a face-to-face survey of 765 heads of research teams in a regional system to contrast the multiple forms of university–industry collaborative linkages. Drawing on the exploitation of a data set developed for the purpose, we show that for a majority of universities the thrust of their collaborative experiences is devoted to tacit knowledge rather than to intellectual property rights. Researchers actively engage in the provision of different services to firms such as consulting work, commissioned or joint research projects, and human resources training. Research teams also participate in non-academic knowledge dissemination and informal networking. The results of our study enable us to draw some policy implications for university administrators and policymakers. A focus on patents and spin-offs as indicators of collaborative research ignores the limits of many of the economic and productive contexts in which universities are embedded. It may also be detrimental to the strengthening of emerging trends that are oriented towards softer collaborative experiences and other forms of knowledge transfer.

Keywords

University–industry relationships Knowledge transfer Intellectual property rights Regional university system 

Notes

Acknowledgments

A previous version of this article was awarded as ‘The Best Paper’ at the Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy, held at The Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA, USA, 2–3 October 2009. The authors would like to thank the organizers of the Atlanta conference and the Award Commission for this concession. We additionally thank Naubahar Sharif for his valuable comments and to the anonymous reviewers of the paper for their useful suggestions. The authors also express their gratitude to Richard Woolley for his editing help, to Nuria Hernández for her contribution to the field work and to Elena Espinosa for her assistance with the statistical analysis. This work was possible thanks to a project grant within the Regional Plan for R&D and Innovation awarded by the Government of Andalusia, Spain (Ref. 2005-00873). The authors thank the support of Manuel Pérez-Yruela in the development of this project.

References

  1. Agrawal, A., & Henderson, R. (2002). Putting patents in context: exploring knowledge transfer from MIT. Management Science, 48(1), 44–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. AUTM. (2010). AUTM’s proposal for the institutional economic engagement index. Deerfield, IL: Association of University Technology Managers.Google Scholar
  3. Bercovitz, J., & Feldman, M. (2004). Academic entrepeneurs: Social learning and participation in university technology transfer. Durham: The Fuqua School of Business and Rotman School of Management, Durham University.Google Scholar
  4. Berman, E. P. (2008). Why did universities start patenting? Institution-building and the road to the Bayh-Dole Act. Social Studies of Science, 38(6), 835–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bonaccorsi, A., & Daraio, C. (Eds.). (2007). Universities and strategic knowledge creation. Specialization and performance in Europe. PRIME Series on Research and Innovation Policy in Europe. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  6. Bozeman, B., Papadakis, M., & Coker, K. (1995). Industry perspectives on commercial interactions with federal laboratories: Does the cooperative technology paradigm really work? Report to the National Science Foundation. Research on Science and Technology Program.Google Scholar
  7. Castells, M. (1995). La era de la información. Madrid: Alianza Editorial.Google Scholar
  8. CES. (2008). Informe sobre la situación socioeconómica de Andalucía 2007. Andalucía. Sevilla: Junta de Andalucía.Google Scholar
  9. CICE. (2006). Plan andaluz de investigación, desarrollo e innovación tecnológica 2007–2013. Sevilla, Servicio de Publicaciones. Ciencia y Empresa: Consejería de Innovación.Google Scholar
  10. Cohen, W. M., & Levinthal, D. A. (1990). Absorptive capacity: A new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(1), 128–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cohen, W. M., Nelson, R. R., & Walsh, J. P. (2002). Links and impacts: The influence of public research on industrial R&D. Management Science, 48(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Colyvas, J. A., & Powell, W. W. (2006). Roads to institutionalization: The remaking of boundaries between public and private science. Research in Organizational Behavior, 27, 305–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. COTEC. (1998). Informe sobre el sistema andaluz de innovación. Sevilla: Fundación COTEC.Google Scholar
  14. D`Este, P., & Patel, P. (2007). University–industry linkages in the UK: What are the factors underlying the variety of interactions with industry? Research Policy, 36(9), 1295–1313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Di Gregorio, D., & Shane, S. (2003). Why do some universities generate more start-ups than others? Research Policy, 32(2), 209–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Drori, G. S., Meyer, J. W., Ramirez, F. O., & Schofer, E. (2003). Science in the modern world polity: institutionalization and globalization. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Etzkowitz, H., Webster, A., Gebhardt, C., & Terra, B. R. C. (2000). The future of the university and the university of the future: Evolution of ivory tower to entrepreneurial paradigm. Research Policy, 29(2), 313–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Feldman, M. P., Irwin, F., Bercowitz, J., & Burton, R. (2002). Equity and the technology transfer strategies of American research universities. Management Science, 48(1), 105–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fernández de Lucio, I., & Conesa Cegara, F. (Eds.). (1997). Estructura de interfaz en el Sistema Español de Ciencia y Tecnología. Su papel en la difusión tecnológica. Valencia: Universidad Politécnica de Valencia.Google Scholar
  20. Fernández-Esquinas, M., Espinosa-de-los-Monteros, E., Jiménez-Buedo, M., Pérez-Yruela, M., & Ramos-Vielba, I. (2008). Prospectiva de recursos humanos en el sistema andaluz de universidades. Córdoba: IESA-CSIC/Consejería de Educación, Ciencia y Empresa.Google Scholar
  21. Fernández-Esquinas, M., Merchán-Hernández, C., Ramos-Vielba, I., & Martínez-Fernández, C. (2010). Key knowledge providers as sources of business innovation. Industry & Higher Education, 24(3), 189–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fernández-Esquinas, M., & Ramos-Vielba, I. (2011). Emerging forms of cross-sector collaboration in the Spanish innovation system. Science and Public Policy, 38(2), 135–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fontana, R., Geuna, A., & Matt, M. (2006). Factors affecting university–industry R&D projects: The importance of searching, screening and signalling. Research Policy, 35, 309–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Friedman, J., & Silberman, J. (2003). University technology transfer: Do incentives, management and location matter? Journal of Technology Transfer, 28(1), 17–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fuchs, G., & Shapira, P. (Eds.). (2005). Rethinking regional innovation and change: Path dependency or regional breakthrough. New York: Economics of Science, Technology and Innovation.Google Scholar
  26. Garlic, S. (1998). Creative associations in special places: Enhancing the partnership role of universities in building competitive regional economies. EIP Report No. 98/4, Southern Cross Regional Research Institute. Australia: Southern Cross University.Google Scholar
  27. George, G., & Bock, A. (2008). Inventing entrepreneurs: Technology innovators and their entrepreneurial journey. Upper Sadle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Pearson.Google Scholar
  28. Geuna, A., & Muscio, A. (2009). The governance of university knowledge transfer: A critical review of the literature. Minerva, 47(1), 93–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Geuna, A., & Nesta, L. (2006). University patenting and its effects on academic research: The emerging European evidence. Research Policy, 35(6), 790–807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P., & Trow, M. (1994). The new production of knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Godin, B., & Gingras, Y. (2000). The place of universities in the system of knowledge production. Research Policy, 29(2), 273–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gulbrandsen, M., & Smeby, J. C. (2005). Industry funding and university professors’ research performance. Research Policy, 34(6), 932–950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Howells, J., Nedeva, M., & Georghiou, L. (1998). Industry-academic links in the UK: A report to the Higher Education Funding Councils of England, Scotland & Wales. Manchester: PREST.Google Scholar
  34. Jain, S., George, G., & Maltarich, M. (2009). Academics or entrepreneurs? Investigating role identity modification of university scientists involved in commercialization activity. Research Policy, 38, 922–935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Laredo, P. (2007a). Toward a third mission for universities. Main transformations, challenges and emerging patterns in higher education systems. UNESCO research seminar for the Regional Scientific Committee for Europe and North America. Paris 5–6 March 2007.Google Scholar
  36. Laredo, P. (2007b). Revisiting the third mission of universities: Toward a renewed categorization of university? Higher Education Policy, 20, 457–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Laursen, K., & Salter, A. (2004). Searching high and low: What types of firms use universities as a source of innovation? Research Policy, 33, 1201–1215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Martin, B., Salter, A., with Hicks, D., Pavitt, K., Senker, J., Sharp, M., et al. (1996). The relationship between publicly funded basic research and economic performance. SPRU: A SPRU review. Report prepared for HM Treasury. Brighton.Google Scholar
  39. Mazzoleni, R., & Nelson, R. R. (1998). Economic theories about the benefits and costs of patents. Journal of Economic Issues, 32(4), 1031–1052.Google Scholar
  40. McLellan, D., Turok, I., & Botham, R. (2006). Final Report. II. University-to-industry-to regional economy knowledge transfer: a literature review and gap analysis. Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. Network on the Overall Impact of HEIs on Regional Economies: Centre for Public Policy for the Regions.Google Scholar
  41. Merchán, C., & Fernández Esquinas, M. (2011). Andalucía. La apuesta por la investigación. In I. Ramos-Vielba (coordinator) Una revisión de los sistemas regionales de I + D. Andalucía, Canarias, Madrid y País Vasco. Fundación Ideas para el progreso: Madrid.Google Scholar
  42. Mohnen, P., & Hoareau, C. (2003). What type of enterprise forges close links with universities and government labs? Evidence from CIS 2. Managerial and Decision Economics, 24(2–3), 133–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Molas Gallart, J., & Castro Martínez, E. (2007). Ambiguity and conflict in the development of ‘Third Mission’ indicators. Research Evaluation, 16(4), 321–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Molas-Gallart, J. (2005). Definir, quantificar i finançar la tercera missió: un debat sobre el futur de la universitat. Coneixement i Societat, 7, 6–27.Google Scholar
  45. Mollas-Gallart, J., Salter, A., Patel, P., Scott, A., & Duran, X. (2002). Measuring third stream activities. University of Sussex, Brighton: Final report to the Russell Group of Universities. SPRU.Google Scholar
  46. Mowery, D. C., Nelson, R., Sampat, B., & Ziedonis, A. (2001). The effects of the Bayh-Dole Act on US Academic research and technology transfer. Research Policy, 30, 99–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Murray, F. (2004). The role of academic inventors in entrepreneurial firms: Sharing the laboratory life. Research Policy, 33, 643–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Nelson, A. J. (2009). Measuring knowledge spillovers: What patents, licenses and publications reveal about innovation diffusion. Research Policy, 38(6), 994–1005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Owen-Smith, J. (2003). From separate systems to a hybrid order: Accumulative advantage across public and private science at research one universities. Research Policy, 32(6), 1081–1104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pérez Yruela, M., Fernández Esquinas, M., & López Facal, J. (2003). Evaluación del Plan Andaluz de Investigación. Córdoba: IESA-CSIC.Google Scholar
  51. Perkmann, M., & Walsh, K. (2007). University–industry relationships and open innovation: Towards a research agenda. International Journal of Management Reviews, 9(4), 259–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ramos-Vielba, I., & Clabo-Clemente, N. (2008). Calidad de las sedes web de las OTRI universitarias andaluzas: Contenidos, usabilidad y accesibilidad. Revista Española de Documentación Científica, 31(3), 366–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ramos-Vielba, I., Fernández-Esquinas, M., & Espinosa-de-Los-Monteros, E. (2010). Measuring university–industry collaboration in a regional innovation system. Scientometrics, 84(3), 649–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. RedOTRI. (2010). Indicadores de transferencia de conocimiento, Cuadernos Técnicos Red OTRI N° 5. Madrid: CRUE.Google Scholar
  55. Schoen, A. (2006). Strategic management of university research activities. Methodological Guide, PRIME Project ‘Observatory of the European University’.Google Scholar
  56. Thursby, J. G., Fuller, A. W., & Thursby, M. C. (2009). US faculty patenting: Inside and outside the university. Research Policy, 38, 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Thursby, J. G., & Thursby, M. C. (2002). Who is selling the ivory tower?’ Sources of growth in university licensing. Management Science, 48(1), 90–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Turpin, T., & Garrett-Jones, S. (2010). Reward, risk and response in Australia Cooperative Research Centres. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 9(1–2), 77–93.Google Scholar
  59. UNICO. (2009). Metrics for the evaluation of knowledge transfer activities at universities. A Report Commissioned by the University Companies Association, Cambridge: The Library House, HEFCE.Google Scholar
  60. Van Looy, B., Callaert, J., & Debackere, K. (2006). Publication and patent behaviour of academic researchers: Conflicting, reinforcing or merely co-existing? Research Policy, 35(4), 596–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zucker, L., Darby, M., & Armstrong, J. (1998). Intellectual capital and the firm. The geographically localized knowledge spillovers. Economic Inquiry, 36, 65–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irene Ramos-Vielba
    • 1
  • Manuel Fernández-Esquinas
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Ideas FoundationMadridSpain
  2. 2.Institute for Advanced Social Studies (IESA)Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)CórdobaSpain

Personalised recommendations