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How do organisational and cognitive distances shape firms’ interactions with universities and public research institutes?
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Centres, Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, CESIS. KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Real Estate and Construction Management, Samhällsekonomi.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0820-2769
2009 (English)In: Summer Conference 2009, 2009Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper examines how the institutional set-up of public research organisations (PROs) affects how firms are able to utilise direct interaction with publicly employed researchers. We argue that the role that PRO interaction has to play in the firm’s innovation processes depend on the organisational and cognitive distances between the firm and the PRO. In particular, this paper empirically explores how Swedish engineering firms assess the value of R&D partnerships with universities and research institutes. Our theoretical discussion of organizational distance suggests that managers should perceive institute contacts to be more strongly associated with short-term R&D projects than university contacts. This hypothesis cannot be verified. Following from our discussion of cognitive distance, we find that firms with advanced R&D capabilities obtain differential benefits. Their interaction with universities provides impulses for innovation and offers opportunities to learn to a greater extent than contacts with public research institutes. However, firms with less advanced R&D capabilities perceive no significant differences between university and institute interaction. Thus, both organizational and cognitive distance affect firms’ interactions with PROs, and our results have implications for the current push in Europe to reform universities and institutes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
public research organisations, organisation of public research, universities, institutes, R&D interaction
National Category
Economics and Business
Research subject
SRA - Transport
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-47438OAI: diva2:455290
CBS - Copenhagen Business School. DENMARK, June 17 - 19, 2009
TrenOp, Transport Research Environment with Novel Perspectives
QC 20111109Available from: 2011-11-09 Created: 2011-11-09 Last updated: 2011-11-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Strategists and Academics: Essays on interaction in R&D
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Strategists and Academics: Essays on interaction in R&D
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis consists of five self-contained essays on interaction in R&D between university researchers and private firms. Together, these essays explore the conditions under which private firms benefit from spillovers from publicly funded and organised research. From the first essay, which sets out to empirically validate the theoretical arguments about the benefits of university-industry interaction for private firms, the thesis follows a line of pursuit that goes back and forth between exploration of the different benefits that firms enjoy from university interaction and the relationships between these benefits and the conditions of interaction. In essay II, a typology of rationales for establishing cooperative relations is presented. A considerable breadth of interaction rationales is documented, but on closer examination, a “core” set of rationales related to innovation in terms of invented or improved products or processes are found to be the main drivers of interaction. Developing this view, three critical issues previously studied within innovation economics are re-considered from the point of view of firm rationales for interaction; public co-funding of university-firm interaction (essay II), the role of geographic proximity for interaction on R&D (essay III) and the organisation of public sector research (public research institutes and universities) in relation to firm level competences (essay IV). In a fifth essay, four ideal types of strategy for localised interaction between R&D subsidiaries and universities are proposed. Through the framework developed in this essay, the rationales for interaction are related to the overall R&D strategy of multinational firms. Concluding the thesis, it is discussed how the research presented herein opens up for improved theorizing around the roles of academic research for industrial innovation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2009. 25 p.
Trita-TEC-PHD, ISSN 1653-4468 ; 09:003
public research, spillovers, university-industry, innovation, R&D interaction, rationales for interaction, geographic proximity, R&D strategy
National Category
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-10259 (URN)978-91-85539-40-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-06-04, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 23, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
QC 20100706Available from: 2009-05-18 Created: 2009-04-24 Last updated: 2011-11-09Bibliographically approved

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