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The role of research outcome quality in the relationship between university research collaboration and technology transfer: empirical results from China

Abstract

This paper aims to determine whether and how quality of research outcome mediates the relationship between university research collaboration and technology transfer. Based on the resource-based view, we propose and test several hypotheses on the relationships between research collaboration, outcome quality and technology transfer using Chinese universities’ granted patents in USPTO. The findings suggest that the size of university research collaboration has an inverted U-shaped influence on their outcome quality and that university collaboration with firms—compared with other academic institutions—has a positive influence on outcome quality. In turn, the quality of research outcome has a positive influence on the technology transfer. Furthermore, there is a partial mediating role of outcome quality in the relationships between university research collaboration and technology transfer. The size and type of university research collaboration affect technology transfer indirectly; through outcome quality. Specifically, outcome quality has a mediation effect on the relationship between collaboration size and technology transfer when collaboration size is not too large. Outcome quality has a partial mediation effect on the relationship between collaboration type (collaboration with firms) and technology transfer. Our findings provide new insights into the process of university technology transfer taking into account the idiosyncrasies of institutional environments in emerging countries such as China.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Guanxi is an intricate and pervasive relational network that contains implicit mutual obligations, assurances, and understanding (Park and Luo 2001).

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Acknowledgements

This work has been supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71673035) and (71922005). We thank graduate students Qian Luan, Xiaomeng Liu for data collection. We are grateful to the editor and anonymous reviewers for their constructive and insightful comments.

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Sun, Y., Zhang, C. & Kok, R.A.W. The role of research outcome quality in the relationship between university research collaboration and technology transfer: empirical results from China. Scientometrics 122, 1003–1026 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-019-03330-6

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Keywords

  • Research collaboration
  • Technology transfer
  • Outcome quality
  • Patent reassignment
  • University patents