Small Business Economics

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 503–524 | Cite as

Who instigates university–industry collaborations? University scientists versus firm employees

  • Rajeev K. Goel
  • Devrim Göktepe-Hultén
  • Christoph GrimpeEmail author


While evidence on the causes and effects of university–industry interaction is abundant, little is known about how, and particularly by whom, such interaction is instigated in the first place and subsequently managed. In this paper, we investigate which mode of collaboration (joint research, contract research, consulting, in-licensing, or informal contacts) is more likely to be initiated and managed by firm employees versus by university scientists. Moreover, we are interested in the differences between small and large firms to see whether initiation and management are affected by firm size. Using a sample of 833 German manufacturing firms, our results indicate that university scientists typically start collaborations with industry, while firm employees would take over the management of projects. Results vary markedly between small and large firms, with university scientists having somewhat higher difficulties initiating collaborations with large firms than with small firms.


University–industry collaboration Initiation Management Firm size 

JEL Classifications

L24 O31 L26 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsIllinois State UniversityNormalUSA
  2. 2.School of Economics and ManagementLund UniversityLundSweden
  3. 3.Department of Innovation and Organizational EconomicsCopenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark

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