Organizational Configuration and Relationship With the Environment: Case Study of the Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto

Organizational Configuration and Relationship With the Environment: Case Study of the Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto

Gonçalo Marques Barbosa (University of Porto, Portugal) and Cristina Parente (University of Porto, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5849-1.ch012

Abstract

This chapter aims to address science and technology parks as organizational structures that promote links between universities and start-up companies. The authors conducted a case study to the Science and Technology Park of the University of Oporto (UPTEC), based on an interpretative and comprehensive epistemological point of view and a mix-methods approach. The analytical focus was on studying the genesis and development of this STP, its internal organization—functional areas and service range—and its different roles. This case study highlighted the benefits of the development of internal subsystems in a STP, which focused mainly in the incubation role. It also stresses UPTEC as a strong illustration of the triple-helix principles. At the same time, this case presented an imbalance in importance of those subsystems and a lack of result tracking as the biggest challenges faced by this STP.
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Science And Technology Parks: Structures And Roles

As structures oriented towards the growth of companies, STPs emphasize the latter’s inclusion in contexts favorable to their development and innovation, particularly by offering them the opportunity to contact with research and development centers. Usually, they offer a close relationship with a university, leading to a fruitful interaction between universities, research and development (R & D) institutions, companies and the market. This results in a broader concern, not only about the companies they are devoted to, but also about local or regional economic development, since due to their usual location in a given geographical area (Phan, Siegel, & Wright, 2005; Testa, & Luciano, 2012) they may act as remarkable pull factors for that region.

Proximity to renowned infrastructures, besides allowing the development of products or services in addition to the transfer of technology and knowledge to society, aims to improve and assist the transition between the university world and the market. This also justifies the STPs’ incubation role. Wilber and Dixon (2003), for example, highlight three factors that encourage the failure of new businesses: (1) at the economic level, the inability to generate satisfactory profit, or staying in a local economy with little vitality; (2) at the financial level, the insufficient amount of available capital, or the large amount of financial charges; and (3) at the level of competencies, the lack of experience in, or knowledge of the business area and matters concerning its proper management. It is in this context that the role of STPs as business incubators becomes particularly relevant since a start-up will need extra assistance and support, for some time, in order to develop properly and avoid premature death.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cluster: A geographical concentration of companies and institutions, usually from the same sector of activity or that share the same strategic goals, a configuration linked to increases in the competitiveness of those companies.

Organic Metaphor: A strategy that understands organizations as organisms that go through continuous change along its life cycle, in the face of internal or external challenges.

Science and Technology Parks (STPs): Organizations that promote economic and social development through the creation of technology and knowledge flows between companies, institutions, or research and development units.

Systemic Approach: A framework that sees an organization as a system composed of interdependent and interactive subsystems. An organizational system is also connected to its respective environment (i.e., the surrounding elements in the systemic boundaries).

Triple Helix: An innovation system format based on a triadic relationship between university, industry, and government.

Incubators: Organizations that help new projects or companies to gain skills and tools, in order for them to be more successful and viable after the incubation period ends.

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