Measuring the Regional 'Third-Mission-Potential' of Different Types of Universities
The influence of higher education institutions on regional economic and social development is a topic of special interest and prevalent object of studies and discussions in regional sciences. Generally, universities are considered to be key actors in regional innovations systems, as they offer regional companies the potential of knowledge transfer and hence encourage localised knowledge spillover effects by enriching the creative atmosphere of a region, and providing continuous access to research facilities and highly qualified human capital. Traditional missions of higher education institutions comprise the generation and accumulation of academic knowledge, and the diffusion of knowledge via academic education. More recently, attention has also been drawn to the regional development role of university activities: the 'Third Mission' of universities. These discussions centre on the high potential of the economic and social impact of universities on their surrounding regional areas, implying that universities might have a duty and mission to foster explicit engagement in regional development processes. As the Third Mission is a comparably unexplored research field, important questions are still to be answered. As studies point out, the success of university knowledge transfer is spatially distributed unequally, with some regions being able to profit from knowledge spillover effects more effectively than others. The research aim of this article is to analyse an important influence factor on knowledge transfer success: the 'fit' between university and region. High complementarity of universities' focus concerning education and research fields with regional economic clusters and specialities might indicate a higher potential concerning the university's regional engagement and Third Mission activities. Although it is mentioned in several studies as important parameter, the university-region-fit has not yet been thoroughly explored in empirical research. Concentrating on the twofold structure of the higher education system in Germany, universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen) have a higher focus on academic education and mostly carry out applied research, whereas universities (UniversitÃ¤ten) have a supplemental focus on basic research. The following article analyses the university-industry-fit between German universities respectively universities of applied sciences and their surrounding region and hence point out their different potential for regional Third Mission activities and knowledge transfer success. JEL classification: Keywords: Knowledge Transfer, Third Mission, University-Industry-Fit
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