How Industry Inventors Collaborate with Academic Researchers: The choice between shared and unilateral governance forms
We investigate under what circumstances firms (industry inventors) are more likely to engage in interactions where governance of the relationship is shared between the firm and the university, as opposed to interactions where the relationship is governed unilaterally by the firm. Using PIEMINV, an original dataset of European industry patents in the Italian region of Piedmont, we analyse the characteristics of inventors with diverse experience in projects involving interactions with universities, governed by institutional contracts or personal contracts. Our results suggest that reliance among inventors of the two forms of governance is almost equal, and that unilateral governance forms are preferred when there are high levels of trust among the parties based on embeddedness in local social and education networks. This is likely because it involves less cumbersome and more direct interactions. We find also that knowledge characteristics are not particularly important discriminants of the choice between governance forms: the advantage of shared governance seems to reside mainly in the possibility to mitigate monitoring and asymmetric information problems in contexts of relatively low levels of mutual knowledge and trust.
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