Exploring the Impact of University-Industry Linkages on Firms' Innovation: Empirical Evidence from Mexico

Exploring the Impact of University-Industry Linkages on Firms' Innovation: Empirical Evidence from Mexico

Noé Becerra Rodríguez (Metropolitan Autonomous University, Mexico) and Gabriela Dutrénit Bielous (Metropolitan Autonomous University, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0135-0.ch024
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Abstract

This chapter explores the impact of University-Industry Linkages (UIL) on the innovative performance of Mexican firms. Due the diverse nature of universities and public research centers, it examines the effect of those UIL separately. Using original data from a survey of 382 firms, the outcomes of Logistic regressions indicate that UIL have significant but mixed effects on firms' innovation. While links with universities seem to enhance product innovations, interactions with PRC seem to foster process innovations. The results confirm the major impact formal Research and Development (R&D) has on innovation projects. Regarding technological intensity, a significant influence on product innovation was found, but not on process novelties with high-technology firms performing better than those from the low technology and services sectors. Conversely, size and age have notable influence on process innovation but not on product novelties, with larger and younger firms innovating more than small and older ones. Finally, some political implications are discussed.
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Introduction

Nowadays the ability to develop and introduce innovations has become crucial if firms aim to survive within an increasingly global and competitive economy. The productive sector uses a variety of sources of knowledge in order to improve its capacity for innovation and solve technical problems. In this context, research from universities and public research centers (PRC) has been recognized as an important wellspring of knowledge for firms. Dealing with this topic, a wide body of literature has analyzed the university-industry linkages (UIL) from the view of firms in order to improve our understanding of this interaction in the framework of the National Innovation System (NIS).1

This thread of research has tackled several topics related to UIL. Aiming to grasp the dynamics of interaction between firms and universities, a number of studies have examined the drivers of UIL for firms ((Adams, Chiang, & Jensen, 2003; Arvanitis, Sydow, & Woerter, 2008; Dutrénit, De Fuentes, & Torres, 2010; Eom & Lee, 2009; Giuliani & Arza, 2009; Hanel & St-Pierre, 2006; Laursen & Salter, 2004; Segarra-Blasco & Arauzo-Carod, 2008; Tether & Tajar, 2008; Torres, Dutrénit, Becerra, & Sampedro, 2011), and the modalities of UIL as a function of structural and behavioral factors (Bekkers & Bodas Freitas, 2008; Cohen, Nelson, & Walsh, 2002; De Fuentes & Dutrénit, 2012; Eom & Lee, 2010). Other scholars have focused on barriers or benefits for the interaction between firms and academic organizations (Arza & Vazquez, 2010; Bruneel, D’Este, & Salter, 2010; D’Este & Patel, 2007; Dutrénit & Arza, 2010; Fernandes et al., 2010; Hall, Link, & Scott, 2001).

Regarding developing economies, and particularly some Latin American countries, we are now aware that firms have different motivations for interacting with universities and PRC and that both agents receive various benefits from this type of collaboration (Dutrénit & Arza, 2010; Albuquerque, 2015).2

All these studies have shown that one critical element for industrial innovation is the pool of scientific understanding generated in the universities and PRC. Therefore, these institutions are a valuable source of research outcomes for firms' innovation projects. Following this idea, several researchers have analyzed the use that firms make of scientific knowledge created within universities (Cohen et al., 2002; Grossman, Reid, & Morgan, 2001; Mansfield, 1991; McMillan, Narin & Deeds, 2000).

There is a broad body of literature regarding the impact of UIL on firms’ innovation (Beise & Stahl, 1999; Feller, Ailes, & Roessner, 2002; Kaufmann & Tödtling, 2001; Klevorick, Levin, Nelson, & Winter, 1995; Segarra-Blasco & Arauzo-Carod, 2008). Although these scholars have recognized that universities and PRC are key agents in the innovative performance of firms, there is not yet a clear understanding about the impact of these NIS agents on firms’ innovation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Public Research Centers: Centers of research and investigation funded by federal or local government.

National Innovation System: Conceptual framework to analyze the dynamics of innovation, centered on the interaction of several agents at national level (government, firms, universities/public research centers, funding agencies, among others).

Econometric Logistic Model: Econometric model that takes as binary variable as a response variable and estimates the likelihood of occurrence of one of them (success).

Product Innovation: Products developed by the firm that are new for the firm, country, or world.

University-Industry Linkages: Interactions between firms and universities/public research centers with the goal of solving technical problems, working on R&D / innovation projects or gathering scientific and/or technological knowledge.

Industrial Innovation: In the context of the study, this implies only new products or new processes developed by the industrial sector.

Technological Intensity: The taxonomy defined by the OECD which includes the proportion of investment in R&D activities, and the technology embodied in capital and intermediate goods.

Process Innovation: New industrial or manufacturing processes that are novelties for the firm, country, or world.

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