The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 891–929 | Cite as

University technology transfer in China: a literature review and taxonomy

  • Aihua Chen
  • Donald Patton
  • Martin KenneyEmail author


The Chinese university system is one of the world’s largest academic research performers and technology transfer is one of the system’s central roles. Academic interest in Chinese university technology transfer in both the West and China has increased in parallel. This review aims to outline what is known and evaluate the state of research about university technology transfer in China. To be comprehensive, uniquely this review considers the relevant journal articles in both English and Chinese languages. The major themes and methodologies used by authors are identified. The evolution of the literature, particularly those in Chinese from general discussions often with minimal citations to more empirically rigorous studies is documented. It is also shown that the English and Chinese language literatures have little overlap in terms of citations, thereby indicating that the two research communities are still largely disconnected. It is found that the sources of data have remained quite limited and the quantitative research is based almost entirely upon government statistics collected for administrative purpose. The concluding discussion suggests possible avenues for future progress in terms of developing new data sources and increasing the cross-fertilization of two research communities.


China Universities Technology transfer University–industry linkages 

JEL Classification

O1 O2 O3 P2 



Aihua Chen gratefully acknowledges the support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 71403104, Humanity and Social Science Youth Foundation of Ministry of Education of China under Grant No. 14YJCZH005, and the Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. LQ13G030016. The authors acknowledge the helpful comments and assistance of Al Link, Ben Martin, Francis Delos Santos, Max von Zedtwitz, and an anonymous reviewer.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BusinessJiaxing UniversityJiaxingChina
  2. 2.Department of Community and Regional DevelopmentUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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