Finding the right partners: Institutional and personal modes of governance of university–industry interactions
We study two different governance modes of university–industry interactions: in the institutional mode, interactions are mediated by the university through its administrative structures (such as departments or dedicated units such as technology transfer offices), while in the personal contractual mode interactions involve formal and binding contractual agreements between firms and individual academics, carried out without the direct involvement of the university. We argue that the choice of which form of governance to adopt involves different decision-making processes for firms and that both governance forms have important roles to play in the context of university–industry knowledge transfer. Relying on a representative sample of firms in the Italian region of Piedmont, we examine the characteristics and strategies of firms that interact with universities under different governance modes. Our results indicate that ignoring personal contractual arrangements with individual researchers, as the previous literature does, amounts to overlooking at least 50% of university–industry interactions. The econometric estimations suggest that personal contractual interactions are used relatively more by small firms involved in technology and open innovation strategies, while institutional interactions are mostly used by large firms that vertically integrate R&D activities.
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