University-Industry Collaborations (UICs): A Matter of Proximity Dimensions?
Keywords:University-Industry Collaborations, UIC, proximity, proximity dimensions, multinational enterprises, MNE
Firms and universities interact with each other despite several barriers hindering their collaboration, such as distances in their worldviews, organizational structures and cognitive capabilities. This suggests that these distances can be bridged in some instances and proximity between the actors may help in the formation of university-industry collaborations (UICs). Proximity, being a multidimensional concept – including geographical and a variety of non-geographical dimensions such as cognitive, organizational, institutional and social – plays a bridging role between the two worlds of academia and industry and facilitates the formation of university-industry linkages. UIC, as well, represents an umbrella term that covers many different types of channels and refers to a broad range of activities as well as outputs of the interactions. Moreover, firms are driven by a variety of different motivations that influence their decision to engage in UICs, which adds to the comprehensiveness of UIC concept.
This thesis, thus, examines UICs from the proximity perspective and aims to increase the understanding of proximity in UICs. It analyses the role, importance and influence of proximities with regards to UICs, which differ greatly in terms of their contents, outputs and motivations. Proximity, through its geographical and non-geographical dimensions, helps in the formation of collaborations between firms and universities. Yet, the influence and importance of different forms of proximity depend heavily on the UIC channels in question and the initial motivation of the firm to interact with universities. Additionally, while proximity dimensions influence UIC outputs generated, the collaboration process might also have an impact on changing the proximity between actors.
Despite the overall acknowledgement of the multidimensional character of the proximity concept, it is generally assumed that geographical proximity is a strong facilitator of interactions between academia and industry. However, several UIC activities, such as co-publishing, can be geographically dispersed since the collaboration of actors over large distances is possible. In addition, multinational enterprises (MNEs) present a rather unique configuration for the analysis of the importance of geographical proximity in UICs owing to their distributed organizational structures across different geographical locations. This dissertation, hence, examines the importance of geographical proximity for MNE’s collaboration with universities. Through a case study of copublication partnerships in the MNE-university setting, the findings demonstrate that the propensity to collaborate with regional vs. nonregional universities varies by the location of subsidiaries. While this may be caused by the differences in the influence of geographical proximity for different subunits within an MNE, it may well be due to some other factors which lead to different outcomes for the geography of UICs. This suggests a need for the inclusion of non-geographical dimensions of proximity in order to explain better the influence of proximity dimensions in UICs alongside the geographical dimension.
Previous studies have seldom taken into consideration the multidimensionality of the proximity concept of and UICs. They rather limited their scope of analysis by covering a limited number of proximity dimensions and UIC channels. This implies that most of the prior studies falls short of providing a thorough analysis of proximity dimensions in UICs. Therefore, following the proximity framework suggested by Boschma (2005), this dissertation presents a novel and comprehensive model that examines the significance of different proximity dimensions across UIC processes. With a quantitative methodology applied via the econometric examination of a survey conducted with 1201 firms, the empirical results highlight the variation in the significance of proximities by UIC channels and outputs. The findings indicate that cognitive proximity and institutional proximity have greater importance for knowledge exploration UICs, while geographical proximity matters less for this type of collaborations. For UICs oriented towards knowledge exploitation, social proximity is more important, whereas organizational proximity matters less for advice-seeking collaborations. There is a growing interest in the dynamic aspect of proximity, implying that interaction processes increase the proximity levels between the actors and proximities co-evolve during interaction processes since they are interrelated and interdependent (Balland et al., 2015; Broekel, 2015). However, the dynamics of proximity have not been examined extensively in UIC context. In this dissertation, this aspect has been addressed by looking at the outputs of UIC processes from the perspective of learning effects represented by non-geographical dimensions of proximity as intangible outputs. Drawing on the use of survey data, the results indicate a close relationship between the formalization of interactions and tangible outputs – such as patents – as well as the contribution of interaction processes in the development of non-geographical proximity regardless of the UIC types.
Additionally, the motivations of firms in engaging in UICs vary across firms, and this has implications for who they choose to collaborate with. Different motivations may affect whether the firms collaborate with the university partners located either in proximity or at a distance. Similarly, the existence of non-geographical proximities may affect the spatiality of UICs, suggesting an interplay between geographical and nongeographical aspects of proximity. Yet, these two factors – motivations and non-geographical proximities – have not been examined within the scope of a single study. This dissertation, however, investigates whether and how firm motivations and non-geographical dimensions of proximity affect the geographical aspect of interactions between firms and universities. The results illustrate that UICs motivated by the need for capacity development and relying on cognitive proximity are less sensitive to distance, while geographical proximity matter more for firms intending to create societal impact and building their collaboration on institutional and social proximity.
Abramovsky, L., Harrison, R., & Simpson, H. (2007). University research and the location of business R&D. The Economic Journal, 117(519), C114-C141.
Ankrah, S., & Al-Tabbaa, O. (2015). Universities-industry collaboration: A systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 31(3), 387-408.
Arundel, A., & Geuna, A. (2004). Proximity and the use of public science by innovative European firms. Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 13(6), 559-580.
Asheim, B. (2007). Differentiated knowledge bases and varieties of regional innovation systems. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 20(3), 223-241.
Balland, P.-A., Boschma, R., & Frenken, K. (2015). Proximity and Innovation: From Statics to Dynamics. Regional Studies, 49(6), 907- 920.
Bathelt, H., & Henn, S. (2014). The Geographies of Knowledge Transfers over Distance: Toward a Typology. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 46(6), 1403-1424.
Benneworth, P., de Boer, H., & Jongbloed, B. (2015). Between good intentions and urgent stakeholder pressures: Institutionalizing the universities' third mission in the Swedish context. European Journal of Higher Education, 5(3), 280-296.
Bodas Freitas, I. M., Rossi, F., & Geuna, A. (2014). Collaboration objectives and the location of the university partner: Evidence from the Piedmont region in Italy: Collaboration objectives and location of university partner. Papers in Regional Science, 93, S203-S226.
Bonaccorsi, A., & Piccaluga, A. (1994). A theoretical framework for the evaluation of university-industry relationships. R&D Management, 24(3), 229-247.
Boschma, R. A., & ter Wal, A. L. J. (2007). Knowledge Networks and Innovative Performance in an Industrial District: The Case of a Footwear District in the South of Italy. Industry and Innovation, 14(2), 177-199.
Boschma, R. (2005). Proximity and Innovation: A Critical Assessment. Regional Studies, 39(1), 61-74.
Bouba-Olga, O., Carrincazeaux, C., Coris, M., & Ferru, M. (2015). Proximity Dynamics, Social Networks and Innovation. Regional Studies, 49(6), 901-906.
Boutilier S., & McNaughton R. B. (2006). Collaboration, Proximity, and Innovation. In Michael M. Beyerlein, Susan T. Beyerlein, & Frances A. Kennedy (Eds.), Innovation through Collaboration (Vol. 12, pp. 175- 202). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Broekel, T. (2015). The Co-evolution of Proximities - A Network Level Study. Regional Studies, 49(6), 921-935.
Broekel, T., & Boschma, R. (2012). Knowledge networks in the Dutch aviation industry: The proximity paradox. Journal of Economic Geography, 12(2), 409-433.
Bruneel, J., D'Este, P., & Salter, A. (2010). Investigating the factors that diminish the barriers to university-industry collaboration. Research Policy, 39(7), 858-868.
Cao, Z., Derudder, B., & Peng, Z. (2019). Interaction between different forms of proximity in inter‐organizational scientific collaboration: The case of medical sciences research network in the Yangtze River Delta region. Papers in Regional Science, 98(5), 1903-1924.
Capello, R. (2014). Proximity and regional innovation processes: is there space for new reflections?. In: Torre, A. & Wallet, F. (eds.), Regional Development and Proximity Relations. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp.163-194.
Cassi, L., & Plunket, A. (2015). Research Collaboration in Co-inventor Networks: Combining Closure, Bridging and Proximities. Regional Studies, 49(6), 936-954.
Chesbrough, H. W. (2003). Open innovation: The new imperative for creating and profiting from technology. Harvard Business Press.
Cohen, W. M., Nelson, R. R., & Walsh, J. P. (2002). Links and impacts: The influence of public research on industrial R&D. Management Science, 48(1), 1-23.
Cohen, W. M., & Levinthal, D. A. (1990). Absorptive Capacity: A New Perspective on Learning and Innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(1), 128-152.
Crescenzi, R., Filippetti, A., & Iammarino, S. (2017). Academic inventors: Collaboration and proximity with industry. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 42(4), 730-762.
Crevoisier, O., & Jeannerat, H. (2009). Territorial Knowledge Dynamics: From the Proximity Paradigm to Multi-location Milieus. European Planning Studies, 17(8), 1223-1241.
Cummings, J. L., & Teng, B.-S. (2003). Transferring R&D knowledge: The key factors affecting knowledge transfer success. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 20(1-2), 39-68.
Davey, T., Galan Muros, V., Meerman, A., Orazbayeva, B., Baaken, T., European Commission, & Directorate-General for Education, Y., Sport and Culture. (2018). The state of university-business cooperation in Europe final report.
De Fuentes, C., & Dutrénit, G. (2016). Geographic proximity and university-industry interaction: The case of Mexico. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 41(2), 329-348.
Dell'Anno, D., & del Giudice, M. (2015). Absorptive and desorptive capacity of actors within university-industry relations: Does technology transfer matter? Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 4(1).
D'Este, P., Guy, F., & Iammarino, S. (2013). Shaping the formation of university-industry research collaborations: What type of proximity does really matter? Journal of Economic Geography, 13(4), 537-558.
D'Este, P., & Perkmann, M. (2011). Why do academics engage with industry? The entrepreneurial university and individual motivations. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 36(3), 316-339.
D'Este, P., & Iammarino, S. (2010). The spatial profile of university- business research partnerships: The spatial profile of u-b research partnerships. Papers in Regional Science, 89(2), 335-350.
Drejer, I., & Østergaard, C. R. (2017). Exploring determinants of firms' collaboration with specific universities: Employee-driven relations and geographical proximity. Regional Studies, 51(8), 1192-1205.
Ferru M., & Rallet, A. (2016). Proximity dynamics and the geography of innovation: diminishing returns or renewal?, In Shearmur R., Carrincazeaux C. & Doloreux D. (eds), Handbook on the Geographies of Innovation. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 100-122.
Fitjar, R. D., & Gjelsvik, M. (2018). Why do firms collaborate with local universities? Regional Studies, 52(11), 1525-1536.
Fitjar, R. D., & Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2017). Nothing is in the Air: Nothing is in the Air. Growth and Change, 48(1), 22-39.
Fitjar, R. D., Huber, F., & Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2016). Not too close, not too far: Testing the Goldilocks principle of 'optimal' distance in innovation networks. Industry and Innovation, 23(6), 465-487.
Foray, D., & Lissoni, F. (2010). University research and public-private interaction. In B. H. Hall, & N. Rosenberg (Eds.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation (Vol. 1, pp. 275-314). North Holland: Elsevier.
Galán-Muros, V., & Plewa, C. (2016). What drives and inhibits university-business cooperation in Europe? A comprehensive assessement: What drives and inhibits university-business cooperation? R&D Management, 46(2), 369-382. https://doi.org/10.1111/radm.12180
Gallaud, D., & Torre, A. (2004). Geographical Proximity and Circulation of Knowledge through Inter-Firm Cooperation. In R. Wink (Ed.), Academia-Business Links (pp. 137-158). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Gallego, J., Rubalcaba, L., & Suárez, C. (2013). Knowledge for innovation in Europe: The role of external knowledge on firms' cooperation strategies. Journal of Business Research, 66(10), 2034- 2041.
Garcia, R., Araujo, V., Mascarini, S., Gomes Dos Santos, E., & Costa, A. (2018). Is cognitive proximity a driver of geographical distance of university-industry collaboration? Area Development and Policy, 3(3), 349-367.
Gertler, M. S. (2003). Tacit knowledge and the economic geography of context, or The undefinable tacitness of being (there). Journal of Economic Geography, 3(1), 75-99.
Gertner, D., Roberts, J., & Charles, D. (2011). University‐industry collaboration: A CoPs approach to KTPs. Journal of Knowledge Management, 15(4), 625-647.
Hall, B. H. (2003). On Copyright and Patent Protection for Software and Databases: A Tale of Two Worlds. In O. Granstrand (Ed.), Economics, Law and Intellectual Property (pp. 259-277). Springer US.
Hansen, T. (2015). Substitution or Overlap? The Relations between Geographical and Non-spatial Proximity Dimensions in Collaborative Innovation Projects. Regional Studies, 49(10), 1672-1684.
Hansen, T. (2014). Juggling with Proximity and Distance: Collaborative Innovation Projects in the Danish Cleantech Industry: Juggling With Proximity And Distance. Economic Geography, 90(4), 375-402.
Heringa, P. W., Horlings, E., van der Zouwen, M., van den Besselaar, P., & van Vierssen, W. (2014). How do dimensions of proximity relate to the outcomes of collaboration? A survey of knowledge-intensive networks in the Dutch water sector. Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 23(7), 689-716.
Hewitt-Dundas, N., Gkypali, A., & Roper, S. (2019). Does learning from prior collaboration help firms to overcome the 'two-worlds' paradox in university-business collaboration? Research Policy, 48(5), 1310-1322.
Hewitt-Dundas, N. (2013). The role of proximity in university-business cooperation for innovation. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 38(2), 93-115.
Hoekman, J., Frenken, K., & van Oort, F. (2009). The geography of collaborative knowledge production in Europe. The Annals of Regional Science, 43(3), 721-738.
Hong, W., & Su, Y.-S. (2013). The effect of institutional proximity in non-local university-industry collaborations: An analysis based on Chinese patent data. Research Policy, 42(2), 454-464.
Huber, F. (2012). On the Role and Interrelationship of Spatial, Social and Cognitive Proximity: Personal Knowledge Relationships of R&D Workers in the Cambridge Information Technology Cluster. Regional Studies, 46(9), 1169-1182.
Innocenti, N., Capone, F., & Lazzeretti, L. (2020). Knowledge networks and industrial structure for regional innovation: An analysis of patents collaborations in Italy. Papers in Regional Science, 99(1), 55-72.
Jaffe, A., Trajtenberg, M., & Henderson, R. (1993). Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 108(3), 577-598.
Johnston, A. (2020). University-Industry Collaboration: Are SMEs Different?. SOTA Review, No 41. Enterprise Research Centre. https://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp- content/uploads/2020/06/No41-University-Industry-Collaboration-Are- SMEs-Different-Johnston-FINAL-1.pdf
Johnston, A., & Huggins, R. (2018). Partner selection and university- industry linkages: Assessing small firms' initial perceptions of the credibility of their partners. Technovation, 78, 15-26.
Johnston, A., & Huggins, R. (2017). University-industry links and the determinants of their spatial scope: A study of the knowledge intensive business services sector: Spatial scope of KIBS university engagement. Papers in Regional Science, 96(2), 247-260.
Kaloudis, A., Aspelund, A., Koch, P. M., Lauvås, T. A., Mathisen, M. T., Strand, Ø., Sørheim, R., & Aadland, T. (2019). How Universities Contribute to Innovation: A Literature Review-based Analysis. NTNU.
Knoben, J., & Oerlemans, L. A. G. (2006). Proximity and inter- organizational collaboration: A literature review. International Journal of Management Reviews, 8(2), 71-89.
Kuttim, M. (2016). The role of spatial and non-spatial forms of proximity in knowledge transfer: A case of technical university. European Journal of Innovation Management, 19(4), 468-491.
Laursen, K., Reichstein, T., & Salter, A. (2011). Exploring the Effect of Geographical Proximity and University Quality on University-Industry Collaboration in the United Kingdom. Regional Studies, 45(4), 507-523.
Laursen, K., & Salter, A. (2004). Searching high and low: What types of firms use universities as a source of innovation? Research Policy, 33(8), 1201-1215.
Leamer, E. E., & Storper, M. (2014). The Economic Geography of the Internet Age. In J. Cantwell (Ed.), Location of International Business Activities: Integrating Ideas from Research in International Business, Strategic Management and Economic Geography (pp. 63-93). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
le Duc, N., & Lindeque, J. (2018). Proximity and multinational enterprise co-location in clusters: A multiple case study of Dutch science parks. Industry and Innovation, 25(3), 282-307.
Marek, P., Titze, M., Fuhrmeister, C., & Blum, U. (2017). R&D collaborations and the role of proximity. Regional Studies, 51(12), 1761- 1773.
Mattes, J. (2012). Dimensions of Proximity and Knowledge Bases: Innovation between Spatial and Non-spatial Factors. Regional Studies, 46(8), 1085-1099.
Menzel, M.-P. (2015). Interrelating Dynamic Proximities by Bridging, Reducing and Producing Distances. Regional Studies, 49(11), 1892- 1907.
Molina-Morales, F. X., García-Villaverde, P. M., & Parra-Requena, G. (2014). Geographical and cognitive proximity effects on innovation performance in SMEs: A way through knowledge acquisition. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 10(2), 231- 251.
Mora-Valentin, E. M., Montoro-Sanchez, A., & Guerras-Martin, L. A. (2004). Determining factors in the success of R&D cooperative agreements between firms and research organizations. Research Policy, 33(1), 17-40.
Muscio, A. (2013). University-industry linkages: What are the determinants of distance in collaborations?*: University-industry linkages. Papers in Regional Science, 92(4), 715-739.
Nilsson, M. (2019). Proximity and the trust formation process. European Planning Studies, 27(5), 841-861.
Norn, M. T. (2016). What lies beneath the surface? A review of academic and policy studies on collaboration between public research and private firms. Unpublished. https://doi.org/10.13140/rg.2.2.10919.96164
OECD. (2019). University-Industry Collaboration: New Evidence and Policy Options. OECD.
Perkmann, M., Tartari, V., McKelvey, M., Autio, E., Broström, A., D'Este, P., Fini, R., Geuna, A., Grimaldi, R., Hughes, A., Krabel, S., Kitson, M., Llerena, P., Lissoni, F., Salter, A., & Sobrero, M. (2013). Academic engagement and commercialisation: A review of the literature on university-industry relations. Research Policy, 42(2), 423-442.
Perkmann, M., & Salter A. (2012). How to create productive partnerships with universities. MIT Sloan Management Review 53(4), 79-88.
Perkmann, M., Neely, A., & Walsh, K. (2011). How should firms evaluate success in university-industry alliances? A performance measurement system: How should firms evaluate success in university- industry alliances? R&D Management, 41(2), 202-216.
Perkmann, M., & Walsh, K. (2007). University-industry relationships and open innovation: Towards a research agenda. International Journal of Management Reviews, 9(4), 259-280.
Ponds, R., Oort, F. v., & Frenken, K. (2010). Innovation, spillovers and university-industry collaboration: An extended knowledge production function approach. Journal of Economic Geography, 10(2), 231-255.
Ponds, R., van Oort, F., & Frenken, K. (2007). The geographical and institutional proximity of research collaboration. Papers in Regional Science, 86(3), 423-443.
Ramos-Vielba, I., & Fernández-Esquinas, M. (2012). Beneath the tip of the iceberg: Exploring the multiple forms of university-industry linkages. Higher Education, 64(2), 237-265.
Schamp, E. W., Rentmeister, B., & Lo, V. (2004). Dimensions of proximity in knowledge-based networks: The cases of investment banking and automobile design. European Planning Studies, 12(5), 607- 624.
Schartinger, D., Rammer, C., Fischer, M. M., & Fröhlich, J. (2002). Knowledge interactions between universities and industry in Austria: Sectoral patterns and determinants. Research Policy, 31, 303-328.
Shearmur, R., Carrincazeaux, C., & Doloreux, D. (2016). Handbook on the Geographies of Innovation. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Slavtchev, V. (2013). Proximity and the Transfer of Academic Knowledge: Evidence from the Spatial Pattern of Industry Collaborations of East German Professors. Regional Studies, 47(5), 686- 702.
Steinmo, M., & Rasmussen, E. (2018). The interplay of cognitive and relational social capital dimensions in university-industry collaboration: Overcoming the experience barrier. Research Policy, 47(10), 1964- 1974.
Steinmo, M., & Rasmussen, E. (2016). How firms collaborate with public research organizations: The evolution of proximity dimensions in successful innovation projects. Journal of Business Research, 69(3), 1250-1259.
Teixeira, A. A. C., Santos, P., & Oliveira Brochado, A. (2008). International R&D Cooperation between Low-tech SMEs: The Role of Cultural and Geographical Proximity. European Planning Studies, 16(6), 785-810.
Thune, T. (2011). Success Factors in Higher Education-Industry Collaboration: A case study of collaboration in the engineering field. Tertiary Education and Management, 17(1), 31-50.
Thursby, J., & Thursby, M. (2011). University-industry linkages in nanotechnology and biotechnology: Evidence on collaborative patterns for new methods of inventing. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 36(6), 605-623.
Tijssen, R. J. W., Yegros-Yegros, A., & Winnink, J. J. (2016). University-industry R&D linkage metrics: Validity and applicability in world university rankings. Scientometrics, 109(2), 677-696.
Torre, A. (2019). Territorial development and proximity relationships. In Capello, R., & Nijkamp, P., (Eds), Handbook of Regional and Development Theories. Edward Elgar Publishing: Cheltenham, UK, pp. 326-343.
Torre, A., & Rallet, A. (2005). Proximity and Localization. Regional Studies, 39(1), 47-59.
Torre A., (2014). Proximity relations at the heart of territorial development processes. From clusters, spatial conflicts and temporary geographical proximity to territorial governance. In Torre A., & Wallet F. (eds), Regional development and proximity relations, Edward Elgar, London, pp. 94-134.
Uyarra, E. (2010). Conceptualizing the Regional Roles of Universities, Implications and Contradictions. European Planning Studies, 18(8), 1227-1246.
Villani, E., Rasmussen, E., & Grimaldi, R. (2017). How intermediary organizations facilitate university-industry technology transfer: A proximity approach. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 114, 86-102.
Werker, C., Ooms, W., & Caniëls, M. C. J. (2016). Personal and related kinds of proximity driving collaborations: A multi-case study of Dutch nanotechnology researchers. SpringerPlus, 5(1).
Wicken, O. (2007). The layers of national innovation systems: The historical evolution of a national innovation system in Norway. TIK Working Papers on Innovation Studies. Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture: Oslo.
Zomer, A., & Benneworth, P. (2011). The Rise of the University's Third Mission. In J. Enders, H. F. de Boer, & D. F. Westerheijden (Eds.), Reform of Higher Education in Europe (pp. 81-101). SensePublishers.