Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Industry and Innovation
For a Special Issue on
Micro processes in Science-Industry Interaction: Actors, Channels, and Impacts
31 May 2023
Special Issue Editor(s)
Friedrich Schiller University Jena, University of Southern Denmark
University of Twente
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Copenhagen Business School
ETH Zürich, KOF Swiss Economic Institute
Micro processes in Science-Industry Interaction: Actors, Channels, and Impacts
Background and Objective
It is well-established that in knowledge-intensive industries, the interaction between academia and industry is paramount to co-create and exchange knowledge for innovation, firm performance, and socio-economic problem-solving (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 2000; Martin, 2012; Perkmann et al., 2013; Siegel et al., 2003). Science-Industry (SI) interactions are multifaceted phenomena involving actors from different institutional contexts who interact in various ways for different reasons (Bercovitz & Feldman, 2006; Diekhof et al., 2019; Lam, 2010; Lee, 2000; Scandura & Iammarino, 2020). Despite a broad extant literature on SI interactions, our understanding of the processes underlying knowledge and technology transfer remains limited. This special issue aims at providing a detailed picture of the relevant micro processes of the interactions between science and industry.
In SI interactions, two distinct kinds of actors, scientists and firms, have to come together and match in order to share, co-create, or acquire knowledge and technologies. While many barriers in this process are identified (Bruneel et al., 2010; Jacobson et al., 2004; Muscio & Pozzali, 2013; Scandura, 2016; Siegel et al., 2003; Tartari et al., 2012), insights into the motives and strategies to interact, especially for industry, remain open. Moreover, little is known about the contexts and ways in which SI interactions occur.
Given the difficulties of such interactions, an additional actor, namely intermediaries and technology transfer offices, comes into play; they are established to ease the transfer process (Comacchio et al., 2012; Howells, 2006; Huyghe et al., 2014; Foray & Woerter, 2021) by acting as initiators and supporters of these interactions and by serving as boundary-spanners between the transfer actors. Thus, intermediaries are considered to have a central role in interaction structures. As a result, these intermediaries also have their own business model and evolve over time, e.g., serving multi-sided markets with digital platforms like Flintbox or iBridgenetwork.
The actors addressed are embedded in a system of structures, rules, and routines in which they operate and which shapes the success of their interaction. The underlying micro processes include, on one side, scientists’ individual decisions and their relationships and activities with intermediaries and, on the other side, industry actors and their motives and reasons. Furthermore, all actors are influenced in their decisions by the existing systems, rules, and norms such as university rules, legal regulations, or moral beliefs.
SI interactions can take various forms of knowledge and technology transfer between actors through different channels. For instance, scientists can move to industry and take their embodied knowledge with them or educate students who transfer knowledge (Kaiser et al. 2018). Research stays or training of PhD students in industry involve frequent modes of interaction. Furthermore, knowledge is commercialized via the selling and licensing of intellectual property rights. Lastly, academic entrepreneurship is considered as a direct and clearly visible transfer channel (Fritsch, 2013; Reddy, 2011; Shane, 2004). From the firm perspective, the most prominent channel is joint knowledge creation via R&D collaboration or contract research. Furthermore, firms seek consulting and other kinds of knowledge from academics. Given the large variety of transfer channels, there is large heterogeneity in the underlying processes and mechanisms to engage in SI interaction. These interactions can be understood as a process (Fabiano et al., 2020; Maresova et al., 2019), which consists of several activities such as the choice of the transfer channel and decision making at certain transfer phases of the processes. A further understanding of that process view is important to foster knowledge and technology transfers.
Central to SI interactions are the exchange or co-creation of knowledge, its application, and its impact. The impact of this knowledge unfolds at different levels. It can lead to different types of innovations, ranging from products or processes in firms, to organizational changes in industries due to the emergence of new competitors or even of new industries. For academic actors, new knowledge from industry can influence their research trajectories, methods, or other research fields. Impacts can also unfold at higher levels of aggregation, such as regions or countries. There are first approaches to conceptualize and measure the outcomes and impacts of SI interactions (e.g. Albats et al., 2018; Cantner et al., 2022). However, the underlying micro processes, such as how knowledge finds its application, how firms implement the results of such interactions, or how it spills over into different areas of application, remain opaque. Furthermore, questions of what influences the impact, how sustainable and cost-efficient interaction processes are, or how the results can be measured and facilitated are open.
The aim of this special issue is to explore the different processes on the micro level for the actors, for the channels of transfer, and for the impact they generate. Previous research provided an understanding of who is engaging in SI interaction and via what channels, as well as what impact to expect. Nevertheless, we still lack an understanding of the fine-grained micro processes governing the actors, channels, and outcomes. Identifying these micro processes will provide a more comprehensive understanding of SI interaction, especially regarding uni vs. bidirectional interaction, problem-solving vs. value-offering activities and many more. For this endeavor, theoretical and both qualitative and quantitative empirical approaches, should be addressed from a disciplinary and interdisciplinary angle. In particular, perspectives from Economics of Innovation, Economics of Science and Technology, Management of Technology and Innovation, and Economic Geography can jointly provide a holistic picture of the antecedents and consequences of SI interaction.
Selected research questions include, but are not limited to:
- What are the actors’ motives and strategies for SI interactions?
- Why do some actors not engage in SI interactions? What are potential barriers?
- Which frictions exist in SI interactions, and how and why do SI interactions fail?
- What is the role and impact of intermediaries in SI interactions, and how does their role change throughout the transfer process?
- What channels of interaction do actors choose and why?
- What factors and barriers facilitate or inhibit SI interactions, and what roles can policy play in supporting the respective interactions?
- What role do intermediaries play in the choice of an interaction channel, and how do they support the interaction process?
- What are the outcomes of SI interactions, and how can they be assessed regarding quantity and quality?
- How important are face-to-face interactions for SI interactions and outcomes?
- Which role do absorptive capacities play in the success and impact of SI interactions?
- What impact can SI interaction have beyond the actual actors, e.g., industry or society?
- How does S-I interaction influence industrial dynamics and industry evolution?
- What are the policy implications and governing lessons derived from case studies of collaboration projects and empirical evidence for SI interaction?
- Submissions to the Special Issue due by May 31th 2023
- Publication of the Special Issue in 2024
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