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A bibliometric review of the technology transfer literature

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This study explores academic research on technology transfer (TT) and the related themes. The TT field has attracted considerable scholarly attention in recent years and has grown rapidly, resulting in a large body of knowledge. Using a bibliometric approach, this study reviews related research issues as well as their influence and connections and provides directions for future research. It uses Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science database that includes 3218 bibliographic references. Several bibliometric analysis techniques and a subsequent review of the content of the most relevant documents are adopted. The performance analysis provided an updated overview of the evolution of the TT literature from 1969 to 2018 and quantitatively identified the most active and influential journals, articles, authors, and organizations. The co-authorship network analysis allowed us to identify and visualize the structure of relations between authors as well as determine the collaboration patterns among them. On the basis of the information supplied by the co-authorship network, the main literature was reviewed to identify the current status and research trends related to TT, identifying five main research streams and related topics. The implications of the study’s findings and directions for future TT research are finally discussed to enhance our understanding of TT agents and issues and support further research in this field.

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  1. 1.

    Keywords Plus is the result of Clarivate Analytics’ editorial expertise. Its editors review the titles of all bibliographic references and highlight additional relevant keywords not listed by the authors or publishers, which results in more precise searches.

  2. 2.

    The first issue of Journal of Technology Transfer was published in 1977. Technovation began in 1981 and International Journal of Technology Management in 1986.

  3. 3.

    This list is available to readers upon request.

  4. 4.

    As the number of citations increase over an established threshold of citations, the network decreases and thereby the number of clusters and related articles in each cluster also fall. Notwithstanding this reduction, the main clusters remain but with fewer authors and articles in each of them.

  5. 5.

    A complete list of authors can be made available upon request.

  6. 6.

    For instance, in the thematic group identified as international TT, two close topics were identified: international joint venture and mergers and acquisitions. These subjects were finally renamed under a single sub-topic called international joint venture.

  7. 7.

    A complete list of the articles included in each research stream and topic can be made available upon request.


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The authors gratefully acknowledge comments and suggestions from Dr. Donald Siegel and anonymous referees on earlier versions of this paper. Any errors and misjudgements remain the responsibility of the authors.


Funding for this research was provided by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation & Universities (MCIU/AEI/FEDER-UE) under the Grant Number RTI2018-097579-B-100, by UPV/EHU under the Grant Number GIU16/46, and by FESIDE.

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Bengoa, A., Maseda, A., Iturralde, T. et al. A bibliometric review of the technology transfer literature. J Technol Transf (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-019-09774-5

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  • Technology transfer
  • Bibliometrics
  • Performance analysis
  • Co-authorship analysis

JEL Classification

  • M15
  • O3