Knowledge Transfer between Universities and Knowledge Intensive Business Services: An Empirical Study

Knowledge Transfer between Universities and Knowledge Intensive Business Services: An Empirical Study

João J. Ferreira (University of Beira Interior (UBI), Portugal & NECE - Research Unit in Business Sciences, Portugal), Cristina Fernandes (Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco, Portugal) and Mário L. Raposo (University of Beira Interior (UBI), Portugal & NECE - Research Unit in Business Sciences, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8348-8.ch019
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In this chapter, the authors study the importance of regional entrepreneurship as well as the characteristics of location, and show that the basis for creation of new firms is knowledge, thus giving emphasis to broadcasters (spillovers) of knowledge coming from universities and other R&D institutions. Thus, the knowledge generated arises from the collaboration between companies and public research institutions (Audretsch & Lehmann, 2005). Here, the authors specifically address the KIBS to the extent that they are creators, users, and transmitters of intensive knowledge. This shows the importance of the study of cooperation between universities and firms, especially KIBS. In this sense, the empirical results demonstrate that cooperation between KIBS and universities occurs independent of their location (rural or urban) and typology (professional or technological). The authors furthermore find that rural KIBS have increased their levels of graduate employment faster than their urban KIBS peers.
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Knowledge is the product of universities that thereby contribute towards fostering productivity and innovation, factors fundamental to boosting development and regional competitiveness (Martin, 1998; Muller, 2001; Howells & Tether, 2004; Toivonen, 2004; Koch & Stahlecker, 2006; Tolstoy, 2009). The rising number of studies on the importance of entrepreneurship at the regional level, as well as the characteristics of location, reveal how the key to founding new companies would seem to be knowledge and hence throwing the spotlight on knowledge spillovers generated by universities and other research and development (R&D) institutions. Furthermore, some of the knowledge generated emerges out of cooperation between companies and public research institutions (Varga, 2000; Audretsch & Lehmann, 2005; Riddel & Schwer, 2003). According to Acs et al. (2006), entrepreneurial activities are tending to be ever higher in standard with investment in new knowledge remaining relatively high while companies, especially new companies, simultaneously making recourse to true sources of knowledge (universities and R&D). Meanwhile Varga (2002) studies the location of knowledge spillovers as a type of economic agglomeration and a means of contributing to regional economic development and as such deserving priority within the context of political practices. Furthermore, Roura (2009) holds how the employment of individuals who have completed higher education reflects on the development and competitiveness of regions. Entrepreneurship also plays a role in regional development as first defended by Schumpeter (1934, 1939, 1942). The entrepreneur represents the primary driving force behind economic development. Indeed, entrepreneurship is able to roll out the innovation enabling profits to be obtained through assuming the risks inherent to creativity. Furthermore, such entrepreneurialism, particularly in the case of new companies, and especially high technology and/or knowledge intensive activities, may originate inside universities with many student engaged in developing projects in the course of their studies, which they later go onto implement and commercialise (Smilor, Gibson & Dietrich, 1990; Steffensen, Rogers & Speakman, 2000; Feller, Ailes, & Roessner, 2002). According to EIRMA (2007), the importance of the transfer of knowledge and cooperation between companies and universities is of great value due to its major input into the development of regional competitiveness.

Correspondingly, interest in Knowledge Intensive Business Services (KIBS) has steadily risen ever since such companies were identified as generating added value to the economy (Acs, 2002; Autio & Acs, 2007; Henrekson & Johansson, 2010). In this way, KIBS are perceived as being of great strategic importance given that they are in the vanguard of innovation practices as well as constantly carrying out practices of overall great importance to the development and diffusion of knowledge (Tether & Tajar, 2008; Acs, Braunerhjelm, Audretsch, & Carlson, 2009). As renderers of knowledge intensive services, the presence of KIBS in a specific location is frequently considered as an important leverage of regional industrial competitiveness (Muller & Zenker, 2009). From the perspective of many authors, there is a clear correlation between the employment rate accounted for by KIBS entities and the level of productivity of non-KIBS companies in the regions hosting the former (Dall’erba, Percoco, M. & Piras, 2007; Delmar & Wennberg, 2010). However, there are also studies that take this viewpoint further and differentiate between the KIBS universe breaking down such companies into the professional and the technological with the latter deemed to display a greater propensity to employ individuals with higher education than professional KIBS (Frell, 2006; Corrocher, Cusmano & Morrison, 2009).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Spillovers: Is an exchange of ideas among individuals. In knowledge management economics, knowledge spillovers are non-rival knowledge market costs incurred by a party not agreeing to assume the costs that has a spillover effect of stimulating technological improvements in a neighbour through one's own innovation.

Regional Entrepreneurship: Is the study of entrepreneurship phenomenon at regional level and it encouraging a more even regional distribution of venture potential efficiency benefits arising from a regional capital activity.

Universities: Is an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects and provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education. Is an establishment endowed for doing research. Research institutes may specialize in basic research or may be oriented to applied research.

Location: Is the place, rural or urban, where companies are implanted. Location is especially important for businesses because they rely a great deal on visibility and exposure to their target markets.

Knowledge Transfer: Is a term used to encompass a very broad range of activities to support mutually beneficial collaborations between universities, businesses and the public sector. It is all about the transfer of tangible and intellectual property, expertise, learning and skills between academia and the non-academic community.

Knowledge: Is the product of universities that thereby contribute towards fostering productivity and innovation, factors fundamental to boosting development and regional competitiveness.

Cooperation: Is the process of groups of organisms working or acting together for their common/mutual benefit, as opposed to working in competition for selfish benefit.

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