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Formal and Informal Knowledge and Technology Transfer from Academia to Industry: Complementarity Effects and Innovation Performance


  • Christoph Grimpe
  • Katrin Hussinger


Literature has identified formal and informal channels in university knowledge and technology transfer (KTT). While formal KTT typically involves a legal contract on a patent or on collaborative research activities, informal transfer channels refer to personal contacts and hence to the tacit dimension of knowledge transfer. Research is, however, scarce regarding the interaction of formal and informal transfer mechanisms. In this paper, we analyze whether these activities are mutually reinforcing, i.e., complementary. Our analysis is based on a comprehensive data-set of more than 2,000 German manufacturing firms and confirms a complementary relationship between formal and informal KTT modes: using both transfer channels contributes to higher innovation performance. The management of the firm should therefore strive to maintain close informal relationships with universities to realize the full potential of formal KTT.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Grimpe & Katrin Hussinger, 2013. "Formal and Informal Knowledge and Technology Transfer from Academia to Industry: Complementarity Effects and Innovation Performance," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(8), pages 683-700, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:indinn:v:20:y:2013:i:8:p:683-700
    DOI: 10.1080/13662716.2013.856620

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Saviotti, Pier Paolo, 1998. "On the dynamics of appropriability, of tacit and of codified knowledge," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(7-8), pages 843-856, April.
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    1. Heredia Pérez, Jorge A. & Geldes, Cristian & Kunc, Martin H. & Flores, Alejandro, 2019. "New approach to the innovation process in emerging economies: The manufacturing sector case in Chile and Peru," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 35-55.
    2. María Jesús Rodríguez-Gulías & David Rodeiro-Pazos & Sara Fernández-López & Christian Corsi & Antonio Prencipe, 2018. "The role of venture capitalist to enhance the growth of Spanish and Italian university spin-offs," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 1111-1130, December.
    3. Sabrina L. Woltmann & Lars Alkærsig, 2018. "Tracing university–industry knowledge transfer through a text mining approach," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 117(1), pages 449-472, October.
    4. Fassio, Claudio & Geuna, Aldo & Rossi, Federica, 2014. "The Contribution of Academic Knowledge to the Value of Industry Inventions: Micro level evidence from patent inventors," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 201408, University of Turin.
    5. Iorio, Roberto & Labory, Sandrine & Rentocchini, Francesco, 2017. "The importance of pro-social behaviour for the breadth and depth of knowledge transfer activities: An analysis of Italian academic scientists," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 497-509.
    6. Spyros Arvanitis & Boris Lokshin & Pierre Mohnen & Martin Woerter, 2015. "Impact of External Knowledge Acquisition Strategies on Innovation: A Comparative Study Based on Dutch and Swiss Panel Data," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 46(4), pages 359-382, June.
    7. Rajeev K. Goel & Devrim Göktepe-Hultén, 2018. "What drives academic patentees to bypass TTOs? Evidence from a large public research organisation," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 240-258, February.
    8. Véronique Schaeffer & Sıla Öcalan-Özel & Julien Pénin, 2020. "The complementarities between formal and informal channels of university–industry knowledge transfer: a longitudinal approach," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 31-55, February.
    9. Uddin, Shahadat & Khan, Arif, 2016. "The impact of author-selected keywords on citation counts," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 1166-1177.
    10. Abdul-Fatahi Abdulai & Lyndon Murphy & Brychan Thomas, 2019. "University Knowledge Transfer And Innovation Performance In Firms: The Ghanaian Experience," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 24(03), pages 1-33, April.
    11. Grimpe, Christoph & Sofka, Wolfgang & Schulz, Philipp & Borchhardt, Geoffrey Thilo, 2019. "Markets for technology in Europe: Mapping demand and its drivers," ZEW Discussion Papers 19-043, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    12. Hewitt-Dundas, Nola & Gkypali, Areti & Roper, Stephen, 2019. "Does learning from prior collaboration help firms to overcome the ‘two-worlds’ paradox in university-business collaboration?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(5), pages 1310-1322.
    13. Stanislav Zaichenko, 2018. "The human resource dimension of science-based technology transfer: lessons from Russian RTOs and innovative enterprises," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 368-388, April.
    14. Dirk Czarnitzki & Christoph Grimpe & Maikel Pellens, 2015. "Access to research inputs: open science versus the entrepreneurial university," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 40(6), pages 1050-1063, December.
    15. Rajeev K. Goel & Devrim Göktepe-Hultén & Christoph Grimpe, 2017. "Who instigates university–industry collaborations? University scientists versus firm employees," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 503-524, March.
    16. Zhu, Xiaoxuan & Xiao, Zhenxin & Dong, Maggie Chuoyan & Gu, Jibao, 2019. "The fit between firms’ open innovation and business model for new product development speed: A contingent perspective," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 86, pages 75-85.
    17. Fudickar, Roman & Hottenrott, Hanna & Lawson, Cornelia, 2016. "What’s the price of consulting? Effects of public and private sector consulting on academic research," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201603, University of Turin.
    18. De Noni, Ivan & Orsi, Luigi & Belussi, Fiorenza, 2018. "The role of collaborative networks in supporting the innovation performances of lagging-behind European regions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-13.
    19. Ardito, Lorenzo & Peruffo, Enzo & Natalicchio, Angelo, 2019. "The relationships between the internationalization of alliance portfolio diversity, individual incentives, and innovation ambidexterity: A microfoundational approach," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 148(C).
    20. Uwe Cantner & Ivan Savin, 2014. "Do Firms Benefit from Complementarity Effect in R&D and What Drives their R&D Strategy Choices?," Jena Economic Research Papers 2014-023, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    21. Roman Fudickar & Hanna Hottenrott, 2019. "Public research and the innovation performance of new technology based firms," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 326-358, April.
    22. Diekhof, Josefine & Eckl, Verena & Krieger, Bastian & Licht, Georg & Nguyen, Thu-Van & Peters, Bettina & Rammer, Christian & Stenke, Gero, 2019. "Knowledge flows between science and industry and how to measure them," ZEW policy briefs 9/2019, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    23. Ugo Finardi, 2014. "Insights on the efficiency of Embodied Knowledge Transfer: results from a localized initiative," CERIS Working Paper 201419, Institute for Economic Research on Firms and Growth - Moncalieri (TO) ITALY -NOW- Research Institute on Sustainable Economic Growth - Moncalieri (TO) ITALY.

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