Boundary spanning between industry and university: the role of Technology Transfer Centres
Technology Transfer Centres (TTCs) have been analyzed in the last few years by focusing on the relationship between a TTC, provider of knowledge-intensive services, and a firm client-receiver. Less attention has been devoted to a more complex relationship which involves in the dyadic provider-receiver tie a third relevant body, University. We provide both a theoretical and an empirical contribution by studying whether TTCs can bond the academic and industrial system and we define the activities that make-up this role such as: scanning and selection of R&D opportunities, bridge building, semantic translation of domain specific knowledge, co-production of new knowledge. The boundary spanning role of TTCs is discussed drawing on different and complementary theoretical perspectives. Moreover, we test research hypotheses on the antecedents of boundary spanning activity from a knowledge-based perspective. We argue that TTC boundary spanners need to leverage on both technical skills and networking competences. Empirical investigation has been carried out with a survey of the TTC population of North East Italy. The research findings highlight the task coordination activities implied by a boundary spanning role in joint R&D projects and show that the endowment of human capital at individual level and a qualified social capital at individual and organizational level are the main determinants. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012
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