How does tacit knowledge transfer influence innovation speed? The case of science based entrepreneurial firms
The increased pressure put on public research institutes to commercialize their research results has given rise to an increased academic interest in technology transfer in general and science based entrepreneurial firms specifically. By building on innovation speed and knowledge literatures, this paper aims to improve understanding of how tacit knowledge can be effectively transferred from the research institute to the science based entrepreneurial firm. More specifically, we assess under which conditions tacit knowledge contributes to the generation of innovation speed, which is a crucial success parameter for technology based ventures. Using an inductive case study approach, we show that tacit knowledge can only be transferred effectively when a substantial part of the original research team joins the new venture as founders. Our analysis also reveals that the mere transfer of tacit knowledge is insufficient to ensure the successful commercialization of technology. Commercial expertise is also required on the condition that the cognitive distance between the scientific researchers and the person responsible for market interaction is not too large. Our findings have implications for science based entrepreneurs, technology transfer officers, venture capitalists, policy makers and the academic community.
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