, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 719–743 | Cite as

A bibliometric portrait of the evolution, scientific roots and influence of the literature on university–industry links



The study of university–industry (U–I) relations has been the focus of growing interest in the literature. However, to date, a quantitative overview of the existing literature in this field has yet to be accomplished. This study intends to fill this gap through the use of bibliometric techniques. By using three different yet interrelated databases—a database containing the articles published on U–I links, which encompass 534 articles published between 1986 and 2011; a ‘roots’ database, which encompasses over 20,000 references to the articles published on U–I relations; and a ‘influences’ database which includes more than 15,000 studies that cited the articles published on U–I relations—we obtained the following results: (1) ‘Academic spin offs’, ‘Scientific and technological policies’ and (to a greater extent) ‘Knowledge Transfer Channels’ are topics in decline; (2) ‘Characteristics of universities, firms and scientists’, along with ‘Regional spillovers’, show remarkable growth, and ‘Measures and indicators’ can be considered an emergent topic; (3) clear tendency towards ‘empirical’ works, although ‘appreciative and empirical’ papers constitute the bulk of this literature; (4) the multidisciplinary nature of the intellectual roots of the U–I literature—an interesting blending of neoclassical economics (focused on licensing, knowledge transfer and high-tech entrepreneurship) and heterodox approaches (mainly related to systems of innovation) is observed in terms of intellectual roots; (5) the influence of the U–I literature is largely concentrated on the industrialized world and on the research area of innovation and technology (i.e., some ‘scientific endogamy’ is observed).


University–industry links Entrepreneurial universities Technology transfer University spin offs Bibliometrics 



The authors acknowledge the insightful comments and suggestions of two referees. The help of Cátia Coimbra, Célia Schmitz, João A. Ramos and Sara Ramos, in data harmonization was deeply appreciated.


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CEF.UP, Faculdade de EconomiaUniversidade do Porto, INESC TEC, OBEGEFPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Faculdade de EconomiaUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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