Journal of the Knowledge Economy

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 186–204 | Cite as

Challenges of Research Collaboration in Ghana’s Knowledge-based Economy

  • Mavis Serwah Benneh MensahEmail author
  • Francis Enu-Kwesi
  • Rosemond Boohene


The purpose of this study was to examine the challenges of research collaboration from the perspective of academic researchers who engage in research collaboration with knowledge users. The study design was descriptive and comprised an explanatory sequential mixed methods approach made up of a survey of a proportionate stratified sample of academic researchers and key informants from two public universities in Ghana. On the basis of responses from 127 academics with collaborative research experience and 11 key informants, it was established through principal component analysis that collective assets, such as lack of common values and trust, followed by structural and positional factors, such as limited funding and inadequate infrastructure, were key challenges of research collaboration. The challenges of research collaboration point to the existence of clash of values between academics and knowledge users and to the absence of comprehensive national and institutional support systems for research collaboration. The persistence of the challenges will widen the knowledge filter in the economy and can eventually result in a Swedish paradox.


Collaboration Development Entrepreneurship Innovation Knowledge Research 



We thank the University of Cape Coast (UCC) for sponsoring a Ph.D. study from which this paper was written and the Association of African Universities (AAU) for the award of small grants for theses and dissertations, in the year 2015. We are also grateful to all individuals and institutions that provided support, especially the academic researchers who kindly accepted to participate in the study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Acs, Z. J., Audretsch, D. B., & Lehmann, E. E. (2013). The knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship. Small Bus Econ, 41, 757–773.Google Scholar
  2. Acs, Z. J., Braunerhjelm, P., Audretsch, B. D., & Carlsson, B. (2009). The knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship. Small Bus Econ, 32, 15–30.Google Scholar
  3. Afful, K. N. (2013). Ghana vision 2015 won’t be achieved without technology. Accessed 17 April 2016.
  4. Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process, 50(2), 179–211.Google Scholar
  5. Ajzen, I., & Klobas, J. (2013). Fertility intentions: an approach based on the theory of planned behavior. Demogr Res, 29(8), 203–232.Google Scholar
  6. Arnkil, R., Järvensivu, A., Koski, P., & Piirainen, T. (2010). Exploring the quadruple helix. Report of quadruple helix research for the CLIQ project. Tampere: Work Research Centre, University of Tampere.Google Scholar
  7. Audretsch, D. B., Hülsbeck, M., & Lehmann, E. E.. (2010). Regional competitiveness, university spillovers, and entrepreneurial activity. UO working paper [No. 02-10], School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Bloomington, USA, 21 April.Google Scholar
  8. Baba, Y., Shichijo, N., & Sedita, S. R. (2009). How do collaborations with universities affect firm’s innovative performance? The role of “Pasteur scientists” in the advanced materials fields. Res Policy, 38, 756–764.Google Scholar
  9. Bercovitz, J., & Feldmann, M. (2006). Entrepreneurial universities and technology transfer: a conceptual framework for understanding knowledge-based economic development. J Technol Transfer, 31, 175–188.Google Scholar
  10. Bloom, D. E., Canning, D., & Chan, K. (2006). Higher education and economic development in Africa (Vol. 102). Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  11. Bozeman, B., Fay, D., & Slade, C. P. (2013). Research collaboration in universities and academic entrepreneurship: the-state-of-the-art. J Technol Transf, 38(1), 1–67.Google Scholar
  12. Bramwell, A., & Wolf, D. A. (2008). Universities and regional economic development: the entrepreneurial University of Waterloo. Res Policy, 37(8), 1175–1187.Google Scholar
  13. Braunerhjelm, P.. (2010). Entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth. Past experiences, current knowledge and policy implications. CESIS working paper [No. 224], The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, February 2010.Google Scholar
  14. Braunerhjelm, P., Acs, Z. J., Audretsch, B. D., & Carlsson, B. (2010). The missing link: knowledge diffusion and entrepreneurship in endogenous growth. Small Bus Econ, 34, 105–125.Google Scholar
  15. Brundenius, C., & Göransson, B. (2011). Universities in transition. The changing role and challenges for academic institutions. International Research Development Centre: Canada.Google Scholar
  16. Buertey, J. I. T., & Asare, S. K. (2014). Public private partnership in Ghana: a panacea to the infrastructural deficit? International Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 3(5), 135–143.Google Scholar
  17. Bukvova, H. (2010). Studying research collaboration: a literature review. J Inf Sci, 6(1), 33–38.Google Scholar
  18. Calvert, J. (2002). Making academic research useful. Scientists’ responses to changing policy demands. Paper presented at the NPRNet Conference on Rethinking Science Policy: Analytical Frameworks for Evidence-Based Policy, 21–23 March 2002, Brighton.’_responses_to_changing_policy_demands. Accessed 20 September 2012.
  19. Cohen, W. M., & Levinthal, D. A. (1990). Absorptive capacity: a new perspective on learning and innovation. Adm Sci Q, 35(1), 128–152.Google Scholar
  20. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. Am J Sociol, 94, 95–120.Google Scholar
  21. Cunningham, J. A., & Link, A. N. (2015). Fostering university-industry R&D collaborations in European Union countries. Int Entrep Manag J, 11(4), 849–860.Google Scholar
  22. Curran, P. J., West, S. G., & Finch, J. F. (1996). The robustness of test statistics to nonnormality and specification error in confirmatory factor analysis. Psychol Methods, 1(1), 16–29.Google Scholar
  23. D’Este, P., Guy, F., & Iammarino, S. (2012). Shaping the formation of university–industry research collaborations: what type of proximity does really matter? J Econ Geogr, 13(4), 537–558.Google Scholar
  24. de Winter, J. C. F., Dodou, D., & Wieringa, P. A. (2009). Exploratory factor analysis with small sample sizes. Multivar Behav Res, 44(2), 147–181.Google Scholar
  25. Ejermo, O., & Kander, A. (2006). The Swedish paradox. Working paper [No. 2006/01, Lund, Centre for Innovation, Research and Competence in the Learning Economy (CIRCLE), Lund University, Sweden.Google Scholar
  26. Etzkowitz, H. (1998). The norms of entrepreneurial science: cognitive effects of the new university-industry linkages. Res Policy, 27, 823–833.Google Scholar
  27. Etzkowitz, H., & Dzisah, J. (2007). The triple helix of innovation: towards a university-led development strategy for Africa. ATDF Journal, 4(2), 3–10.Google Scholar
  28. Fetters, M. D., Curry, L. A., & Creswell, J. W. (2013). Achieving integration in mixed methods designs—principles and practices. Health Serv Res, 48(6), 2134–2156.Google Scholar
  29. Frede, J. (2012). ECOWAS’ capability and potential to solve constraints to growth and poverty reduction of its member states. Unpublished Manuscript, University of Trier, Germany. Accessed 17 June 2016.
  30. Freitas, I. M. B., Marques, R. A., & e Silva, E. M. D. P. (2013). University–industry collaboration and innovation in emergent and mature industries in new industrialized countries. Res Policy, 42(2), 443–453.Google Scholar
  31. Government of Ghana. (2010). Medium-term national development policy framework. Ghana shared growth and development agenda (GSGDA)—2010-2013, 1: policy framework. Accra: Author. Accessed 2 February 2013.
  32. Green, S. B., Thompson, M. S., Levy, R., & Lo, W. J. (2015). Type I and type II error rates and overall accuracy of the revised parallel analysis method for determining the number of factors. Educ Psychol Meas, 75(3), 428–457.Google Scholar
  33. Grimaldi, R., Kenney, M., Siegel, D. S., & Wright, M. (2011). 30 years after Bayh-Dole: reassessing academic entrepreneurship. Res Policy, 40, 1045–1057.Google Scholar
  34. Henrekson, M., & Rosenberg, N. (2001). Designing efficient institutions for science-based entrepreneurship: lessons from the US and Sweden. The Journal of Technology Transfer, (forthcoming). Accessed 7 October 2012.
  35. Hughes, A., & Kitson, M. (2012). Pathways to impact and the strategic role of universities. Working paper [No. 435], Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge. Accessed 18 November 2013.
  36. Hughes, A., Kitson, M., Probert, J., Bullock, A., & Milner, I.. (2011). Hidden connections: knowledge exchange between the arts and humanities and the private, public and third sectors. University of Cambridge Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge. Accessed 23 October 2012.
  37. Jacob, S. A., & Furgerson, S. P. (2012). Writing interview protocols and conducting interviews: tips for students new to the field of qualitative research. Qual Rep, 17(6), 1–10.Google Scholar
  38. Johnson, B., Lorenz, E., & Lundvall, B. Å. (2002). Why all this fuss about codified and tacit knowledge? Ind Corp Chang, 11(2), 245–262.Google Scholar
  39. Karnani, F. (2013). The university’s unknown knowledge: tacit knowledge, technology transfer and university spin-offs findings from an empirical study based on the theory of knowledge. J Technol Transf, 38(3), 235–250.Google Scholar
  40. Kim, H. Y. (2013). Statistical notes for clinical researchers: assessing normal distribution (2) using skewness and kurtosis. Restorative Dentistry and Endodontics, 38(1), 52–54.Google Scholar
  41. Kostopoulos, K., Papalexandris, A., Papachroni, M., & Ioannou, G. (2010). Absorptive capacity, innovation and financial performance. J Bus Res, 64(12), 1335–1343.Google Scholar
  42. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology [KNUST]. (2005). Corporate strategic plan (2005–2014). Kumasi: KNUST.Google Scholar
  43. Lam, A. (2010). From “ivory tower traditionalists” to “entrepreneurial scientists”? Academic scientists in fuzzy university-industry boundaries. Soc Stud Sci, 40(2), 307–340.Google Scholar
  44. Ledesma, R. D., & Valero-Mora, P. (2007). Determining the number of factors to retain in EFA: an easy-to-use computer program for carrying out parallel analysis. Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation, 12(2), 1–11.Google Scholar
  45. Leydesdorff, L. (2010). The knowledge-based economy and the triple helix model. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 44(1), 365–417.Google Scholar
  46. Leydesdorff, L. (2012). The triple helix, quadruple helix,… and an N-tuple of helices: explanatory models for analyzing the knowledge-based economy? J Knowl Econ, 3(1), 25–35.Google Scholar
  47. Lin, N. (1999). Building a network theory of social capital. Connections, 22(1), 28–51.Google Scholar
  48. Lin, N. (2008). A network theory of social capital. In D. Castiglione, J. van Deth, & G. Wolleb (Eds.), The handbook of social capital (pp. 50–69). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Long, J. C., Cunningham, F. C., & Braithwaite, J. (2013). Bridges, brokers and boundary spanners in collaborative networks: a systematic review. BMC Health Serv Res, 13(1). doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-13-158.
  50. Lorenz, C. (2012). If you’re so smart, why are you under surveillance? Universities, neoliberalism, and new public management. Crit Inq, 38(3), 599–629.Google Scholar
  51. MacCallum, R. C., Widaman, K. F., Zhang, S., & Hong, S. (1999). Sample size in factor analysis. Psychol Methods, 4(1), 84–99.Google Scholar
  52. MacCallum, R. C., Widaman, K. F., Preacher, K. J., & Hong, S. (2001). Sample size in factor analysis: the role of model error. Multivar Behav Res, 36(4), 611–637.Google Scholar
  53. McNall, M. A. (2014). Boundary-spanning in organizations: network, influence, and conflict. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 18(3), 147–152.Google Scholar
  54. Mansfeld, E. (1995). Academic research underlying industrial innovations: sources, characteristics, and financing. Rev Econ Stat, 77(1), 55–65.Google Scholar
  55. Mêgnigbêto, E. (2013). Triple helix of university-industry-government relationships in West Africa. Journal of Scientometric Research, 2(3), 214–222.Google Scholar
  56. Mensah, M. S. B.. (2016). Involvement of academic researchers in research collaboration [abstract]. Paper presented at the 2nd International Research Conference on Promoting Humanities Research for Development in Africa, 15–17 June 2016, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana.Google Scholar
  57. Moore, B., Hughes, A., & Ulrichsen, T. (2010). Synergies and tradeoffs between research, teaching and knowledge exchange (research report to HEFCE). Cambridge: Public and Economic Corporate Consultants (PACEC) and the Centre for Business Research (CBR). Accessed 2 July 2014.
  58. Muscio, A., & Vallanti, G. (2014). Perceived obstacles to university–industry collaboration: results from a qualitative survey of Italian academic departments. Ind Innov, 21(5), 410–429.Google Scholar
  59. Oduro-Marfo, S. (2015). Toward a national innovation strategy: a critique of Ghana’s science, technology and innovation policy. The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 20(3), 1–11.Google Scholar
  60. Pallant, P. (2011). SPSS survival manual a step by step guide to data analysis using SPSS (4th ed.). Crowns Nest: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  61. Perkmann, M., & Walsh, K. (2009). The two faces of collaboration: impacts of university industry relations on public research. Ind Corp Chang, 18(6), 1033–1065.Google Scholar
  62. Perkmann, M., Neely, A., & Walsh, K. (2011). How should firms evaluate success in university–industry alliances? A performance measurement system. R&D Manag, 41(2), 202–216.Google Scholar
  63. Polanyi, M. (1966). The logic of tacit inference. Philosophy, 41(155), 1–18.Google Scholar
  64. Research Councils UK (n.d.). Innovation and the research councils. Accessed 6 March 2016.
  65. Rinne, R., & Koivula, J. (2005). The changing place of the university and a clash of values. The entrepreneurial university in the European knowledge society a review of the literature. Higher Education Management and Policy, 17(3), 91–123.Google Scholar
  66. Robson, P. J. A., & Obeng, B. A. (2008). The barriers to growth in Ghana. Small Bus Econ, 30(4), 385–403.Google Scholar
  67. Sawyerr, A. (2004). Challenges facing African universities: selected issues. Afr Stud Rev, 47(1), 1–59.Google Scholar
  68. Schumpeter, J. A.. (1983). The theory of economic development (R. Opie, Trans. with new introd. by J. E. Elliott). Transaction, Brunswick (reprint of Theorie der wirtschaftlichen entwicklung by J. A. Schumpeter, 1934, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).Google Scholar
  69. Serger, S. S., Wise, E., & Arnold, E. (2015). National research and innovation councils as an instrument for innovation governance—characteristics and challenges. VINNOVA–Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems Sweden, Sweden, Accessed 11 January 2016.
  70. Shapin, S. (2012). The ivory tower: the history of a figure of speech and its cultural uses. Br J Hist Sci, 5(1), 1–27.Google Scholar
  71. Smirnova, Y. V. (2014). Attitudes of companies in Kazakhstan towards knowledge collaboration with universities. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 109, 639–644.Google Scholar
  72. UNCTAD. (2011). Science, technology and innovation policy review—Ghana. Switzerland: United Nations. Accessed 17 October 2013.
  73. University of Cape Coast (UCC). (2012a). University of Cape Coast Strategic Plan (2012-2017). Cape Coast: Author.Google Scholar
  74. University of Cape Coast (UCC). (2012b). University of Cape Coast Statutes. Cape Coast: Author.Google Scholar
  75. Yawson, R.M. (2002). Technology commercialization and intellectual property rights in Ghana. Paper presented at the International Conference on TRIPS, 11th–12th October 2002, Hyderabad, India. Accessed 21 September 2013.
  76. Zachariadis, M. (2003). R&D, innovation, and technological progress: a test of the Schumpeterian framework without scale effects. Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue Canadienne d’Économique, 36(3), 566–586.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mavis Serwah Benneh Mensah
    • 1
    Email author
  • Francis Enu-Kwesi
    • 2
  • Rosemond Boohene
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Entrepreneurship and Small Enterprise Development (CESED), School of Business, College of Humanities and Legal StudiesUniversity of Cape CoastCape CoastGhana
  2. 2.Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for Development Studies, College of Humanities and Legal StudiesUniversity of Cape CoastCape CoastGhana

Personalised recommendations