Pathways to impact and the strategic role of universities:New evidence on the breadth and depth of university knowledge exchange in the UK and the factors constraining its development

Hughes, A. and Kitson, M. (2012) Pathways to impact and the strategic role of universities:New evidence on the breadth and depth of university knowledge exchange in the UK and the factors constraining its development. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 36 (3). pp. 723-750. ISSN 0309-166X

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Abstract

There has been an increasing focus on the strategic role of universities in stimulating innovation and economic growth, primarily though the transfer of technology. This paper interrogates some of the key aspects of much of the conventional wisdom concerning the transfer of technology and the knowledge exchange process in general. It analyses the results from two unique surveys: a survey of the UK academic community that generated more than 22,000 responses; and a stratified survey of businesses that generated more than 2,500 responses. The results suggest that much of the conventional wisdom concerning knowledge exchange involving academia is too narrowly confined or is misinformed. First, there is an excessive focus in much of the academic and policy discourse on commercialisation and technology transfer—there are many knowledge exchange mechanisms used by academics—these include commercialisation processes but also many other ‘hidden’ connections. Second, the focus on the science base ignores that knowledge exchange involves academics from all disciplines. Third, the preoccupation with improving innovation and business performance tends to ignore that knowledge exchange involves partners from the public and third (not for profit) sectors as well as private sector businesses. Fourth, the main constraints that hinder or limit the knowledge exchange process include a lack of time, insufficient internal capability to manage relationships and insufficient information to identify partners. Problems concerning cultural differences between academics and business, and disputes concerning intellectual property are not prominent. Overall, the paper suggests that the notion of an academic ‘ivory tower’ seems to be a myth as far as the UK is concerned. It also suggests that a strategic focus on strengthening connections between academia and the rest of society may generate long-term benefits, but it will also face challenges and should not distort or divert from the wider foundations of scholarship on which the success of universities are built.

Item Type: Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title: Cambridge Journal of Economics
Uncontrolled Keywords: /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2000/2002
Subjects:
Departments: Lancaster University Management School > Management Science
ID Code: 129329
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 05 Dec 2018 15:06
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2020 04:49
URI: https://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/129329

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