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The Role of Human Capital in University-Business Cooperation: The Case of Mexico

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  • Humberto Merritt

    ()

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    The interaction between industrial firms and academia has long been extremely weak in Mexico in spite of the manufacturing revival sparked by NAFTA since 1994. This situation is paradoxical given the persistent efforts from the Mexican State to encourage university-industry linkages. Over the years, this uncoupling has produced two effects: on the one hand, university research has followed its own agenda, mainly driven by scientists’ interests based on their career tracks, and on the other hand, most firms lack research and development capabilities because they have preferred to seek abroad for technological advice. Because human capital plays a crucial role in this phenomenon, we then focus on answering the following question: to what extent are Mexican industrial firms able to harness university knowledge? Analyses carried out on a survey of 39,336 enterprises, which were collected by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), suggest that larger firms are more capable of absorbing the knowledge generated by universities thanks to their higher level of human capital, whereas smaller firms face harder challenges to harness academic knowledge because of their lack of qualified engineers and technicians that can help them to address their innovative endeavours. The implication of these results for public policy is that collaboration between industry and academia in Mexico can be encouraged by selectively supporting the hire of relatively low-trained engineering graduates and technicians, whereas universities should also be able to promote key programming skills, technical training, infrastructure skills and even sales training and negotiation skills, much earlier in the academic process. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s13132-015-0258-3
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    Article provided by Springer & Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET) in its journal Journal of the Knowledge Economy.

    Volume (Year): 6 (2015)
    Issue (Month): 3 (September)
    Pages: 568-588

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:jknowl:v:6:y:2015:i:3:p:568-588
    DOI: 10.1007/s13132-015-0258-3
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