IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Universities’ functions in knowledge transfer: a geographical perspective

  • Martina Fromhold-Eisebith
  • Claudia Werker


Universities’ functions in knowledge transfer have been thoroughly investigated by scholars from different disciplines in the last decades. However, a complete picture of universities’ contribution to regional, national and international knowledge transfer is still missing. In this paper, we pull together the strings of various scholarly works produced by economic geographers, economists, regional scientists and others, thereby taking stock of achievements and shortcomings and elaborating avenues for further scientific work. We analyse the various functions of universities by using four conceptual frameworks, namely the regional innovation systems approach, the new production of technology theory, the triple helix model and social network theory. These different frameworks help to integrate the functions of universities into local-regional, national and international relationships theoretically. Empirically, universities’ relationships have been investigated by case studies, surveys and increasingly by social network analysis. Our exercise results in a critical discussion of a predominantly regional focus of investigation. Looking at knowledge transfer from a regional, national and international perspective leads to a different way of developing theoretical concepts and matching them with empirical tools. In particular, we find that social network analysis and its theoretical basis, i.e., social network theory, will give more body to understanding knowledge transfer functions of universities. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Springer in its journal The Annals of Regional Science.

Volume (Year): 51 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 621-643

in new window

Handle: RePEc:spr:anresc:v:51:y:2013:i:3:p:621-643
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Schartinger, Doris & Rammer, Christian & Fischer, Manfred M. & Frohlich, Josef, 2002. "Knowledge interactions between universities and industry in Austria: sectoral patterns and determinants," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 303-328, March.
  2. Jensen, Morten Berg & Johnson, Bjorn & Lorenz, Edward & Lundvall, Bengt Ake, 2007. "Forms of knowledge and modes of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 680-693, June.
  3. Micheal Fritsch & Christian Schwirten, 1999. "Enterprise-University Co-operation and the Role of Public Research Institutions in Regional Innovation Systems," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 69-83.
  4. Holger Graf, 2011. "Gatekeepers in regional networks of innovators," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(1), pages 173-198.
  5. Tornatzky, Louis G, 2001. " Benchmarking University-Industry Technology Transfer: A Six Year Retrospective," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 269-77, June.
  6. Janet Bercovitz & Maryann Feldman, 2006. "Entpreprenerial Universities and Technology Transfer: A Conceptual Framework for Understanding Knowledge-Based Economic Development," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 175-188, 01.
  7. Markus Perkmann & Kathryn Walsh, 2009. "The two faces of collaboration: impacts of university-industry relations on public research," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(6), pages 1033-1065, December.
  8. Michael Fritsch & Martina Kauffeld-Monz, 2008. "The impact of network structure on knowledge transfer: An application of social network analysis in the context of regional innovation networks," Jena Economic Research Papers 2008-036, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  9. Roderik Ponds & Frank van Oort & Koen Frenken, 2007. "The geographical and institutional proximity of research collaboration," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 86(3), pages 423-443, 08.
  10. Schartinger, Doris & Schibany, Andras & Gassler, Helmut, 2001. " Interactive Relations between Universities and Firms: Empirical Evidence for Austria," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 255-68, June.
  11. Mario A. Maggioni & Teodora Erika Uberti & Stefano Usai, 2008. "Treating patent as relational data: Knowledge transfers and spillovers across Italian provinces," DISEIS - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo dis0802, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo (DISEIS).
  12. Chrys Gunasekara, 2006. "Reframing the Role of Universities in the Development of Regional Innovation Systems," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 101-113, 01.
  13. Uwe Cantner & Holger Graf, 2004. "The Network of Innovators in Jena: An Application of Social Network Analysis," Jenaer Schriften zur Wirtschaftswissenschaft 04/2004, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  14. Elvira Uyarra, 2009. "Conceptualizing the Regional Roles of Universities, Implications and Contradictions," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(8), pages 1227-1246, March.
  15. Claudia Werker & Suma Athreye, 2004. "Marshall’s disciples: knowledge and innovation driving regional economic development and growth," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(5), pages 505-523, December.
  16. Edward Bergman, 2009. "Embedding network analysis in spatial studies of innovation," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 559-565, September.
  17. Dominic Power & Anders Malmberg, 2008. "The contribution of universities to innovation and economic development: in what sense a regional problem?," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 1(2), pages 233-245.
  18. Scott W. Cunningham & Claudia Werker, 2012. "Proximity and collaboration in European nanotechnology," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 91(4), pages 723-742, November.
  19. Marjolein C.J. Caniëls & Herman van den Bosch, 2011. "The role of Higher Education Institutions in building regional innovation systems," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 90(2), pages 271-286, 06.
  20. Helen Lawton Smith, 2003. "Knowledge Organizations and Local Economic Development: The Cases of Oxford and Grenoble," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(9), pages 899-909.
  21. Aldo Geuna & Alessandro Muscio, 2008. "The governance of University knowledge transfer," SPRU Working Paper Series 173, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
  22. Bathelt, Harald & Gluckler, Johannes, 2011. "The Relational Economy: Geographies of Knowing and Learning," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199587391, July.
  23. Verspagen, Bart & Werker, Claudia, 2004. "Keith Pavitt and the Invisible College of the Economics of Technology and Innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1419-1431, November.
  24. Martina Kauffeld-Monz & Michael Fritsch, 2008. "Who are the brokers of knowledge in regional systems of innovation? A multi-actor network analysis," Jena Economic Research Papers 2008-089, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:anresc:v:51:y:2013:i:3:p:621-643. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Christopher F Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.