University-Industry interactions and knowledge transfer mechanisms: a critical survey
This article reviews the literature on knowledge transfer mechanisms (KTMs) used in university-industry interactions. The literature may be articulated around four dimensions: (i) the relative importance of KTM as perceived by the involved stakeholders, (ii) the factors affecting the organisation of university-industry interactions, (iii) the interrelatedness of different KTMs and, (iv) the impact of increased university-interactions on traditional academic missions. An outstanding fact stemming from this review is that spin-offs and patents are not considered by the university and the industry as the most important KTMs. Traditional KTMs, such as publications or collaborative research however, are perceived as more significant ways of transferring knowledge. A large variety of factors influence the use of a KTM (for instance, characteristics of researchers or of the involved firms). While some trends may be outlined, not much is known so far about the interweaving of different KTMs. Consequently, no simple model of knowledge transfer between universities and the business sector is possible, and should certainly not be restricted to “new” KTMs. As regards to the risks of increased reliance of university on the business sector, I suggest that those risks could be limited under some conditions.
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