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University and Business Relations: Connecting the Knowledge Economy

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  • J. Stanley Metcalfe
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    Abstract

    The old question ‘How is wealth created from knowledge?’ captures with great force and clarity one of the most important problems in any economy, but it subsumes a far more particular and very modern instantiation, a simpler and more direct question, ‘How should universities interact with business in the promotion of economic progress?’ Like many seemingly simple questions they preclude any simple answers, yet it turns out that by focusing on the role of universities in the innovation process we can identify some of the deeper complexities of our knowledge based economies. In so doing, we may better understand the design of university-business relationships in pursuit of economic progress and provide surer guidance for policy initiatives in this area. The discussion is centred on three interrelated ideas: the division of labour in the production and use of knowledge; processes of knowledge accumulation; and, innovation systems. We conclude that, critics of the role of universities and firms in respect to their performance in supporting wealth creation should reflect first on the fact that the division of labour between profit seeking business corporations and universities reflects both the quite distinct roles that these organisations fulfil, and, the complementarity between those roles. We can all understand that it would be as unwise to expect firms to behave like universities as it would be to expect universities to behave like firms. The division of labour is there for a purpose, it should be respected.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by ESRC Centre for Business Research in its series ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers with number wp395.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp395

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    Web page: http://www.cbr.cam.ac.uk/

    Related research

    Keywords: Universities; Business; Connections; Innovation Systems; Technology Transfer Arrangements;

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    References

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    1. Bart Verspagen, 2006. "University research, intellectual property rights and European innovation systems," Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) working paper series 06-05, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS), revised Mar 2006.
    2. Howells, Jeremy, 2006. "Intermediation and the role of intermediaries in innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 715-728, June.
    3. Jeremy Howells, 1999. "Research and Technology Outsourcing and Innovation Systems: an Exploratory Analysis," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 111-129.
    4. Young, Allyn A., 1928. "Increasing Returns and Economic Progress," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 38, pages 527-542.
    5. David C. Mowery & Bhaven N. Sampat, 2005. "The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 and University--Industry Technology Transfer: A Model for Other OECD Governments?," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 30(2_2), pages 115-127, 01.
    6. Mowery, David C & Sampat, Bhaven N, 2001. "University Patents and Patent Policy Debates in the USA, 1925-1980," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 781-814, September.
    7. Kaufmann, Alexander & Tödtling, Franz, 2000. "Science-Industry Interaction In The Process Of Innovation - The Importance Of Boundary-Crossing Between Systems," ERSA conference papers ersa00p428, European Regional Science Association.
    8. Alan Hughes, 2007. "Innovation Policy as cargo cult: Myth and Reality in knowledge-led Productivity Growth," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp348, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
    9. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Shaping of Higher Education: The Formative Years in the United States, 1890 to 1940," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 37-62, Winter.
    10. Nelson, Richard R. & Sampat, Bhaven N., 2001. "Making sense of institutions as a factor shaping economic performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 31-54, January.
    11. Mina, A. & Ramlogan, R. & Tampubolon, G. & Metcalfe, J.S., 2007. "Mapping evolutionary trajectories: Applications to the growth and transformation of medical knowledge," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 789-806, June.
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