Strengthening Knowledge Transfer between the University and Enterprise: A Conceptual Model for Collaboration

Strengthening Knowledge Transfer between the University and Enterprise: A Conceptual Model for Collaboration

José L. Pineda (Tecnológico de Monterrey, México), Laura Esther Zapata (Tecnológico de Monterrey, México) and Jacobo Ramírez (Tecnológico de Monterrey, México)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-790-4.ch007
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In today’s world, where uncertainty and the rapidity of technological changes predominate, companies need to generate and adopt knowledge continuously in order to build a sustainable competitive advantage. In this context, analyzing the collaborative relationships existing between the university and firms is relevant. The aim of this chapter is to explore the role of the university as a generator and disseminator of knowledge, as well as the difficulties it faces in making the results of its research available to the business world. The collaboration efforts between the academic and business worlds are assessed in order to ultimately propose the review of teaching, continuing education, and consulting as knowledge dissemination channels. This research project has been conducted in the context of a Mexican university. Besides the findings of the current and future research projects, the matter of the question is the redefinition of the university and its role in society. In business schools in particular, the pending issue is to discuss the basic aim of academic research in management.
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1. Introduction

This chapter reviews the role of the university as a generator and disseminator of knowledge, as well as its difficulties in getting the results of its research to the business world. It also analyzes the characteristics of both academic institutions and business organizations that determine the dissemination and adoption of new knowledge. In addition, collaboration efforts between academia and firms are assessed.

The origin of a significant competitive advantage for enterprises lies in their capacity to create and integrate new knowledge into their operations. This is particularly relevant in the increasingly dynamic, volatile settings in which organizations currently work (Teece, Pisano & Shuen, 1997; Grant, 1998). Part of the new knowledge acquired by companies is not generated inside them, but comes from external sources, such as consulting organizations, independent professional services and universities.

Over the past few years, universities have been seen to participate strongly in introducing innovations into companies’ administrative processes. This has been possible thanks to two major trends. On the one hand, the firms’ interest in learning and continuous improvement, motivated by a climate of growing competitiveness, and on the other, the universities’ efforts to further promote the dissemination of the results of their research in the business world. First of all, the findings of empirical research conducted by academic media will naturally and necessarily be considered as an important source of knowledge innovation for the company.

However, in reality, business practice has little to do with the academic world and its contributions from research (Pfeffer & Fong, 2002). It takes many years (if ever) for the knowledge innovations generated in universities to be integrated into organizational operations. There appears to be a huge gap between universities and firms that makes it difficult for businesses to adopt innovations from academia (Starkey & Tempest, 2005). As a result of this gap, cooperation projects between universities and firms have been initiated with the main goal of guiding and integrating academic research into business practice, thus forming the appropriate channels to produce a flow of innovations originating in academic research between academic institutions and the business world. Nevertheless, not all of the university-firm projects for developing research applied to the business world are always successful (Pfeffer, 2007).

This chapter offers an exploratory investigation that identifies some of the relevant elements that facilitate or prevent the generation of knowledge in a private Mexican university and how this knowledge is disseminated and used in companies. In the next section, it presents a conceptual model in which some knowledge dissemination channels are suggested and some practical implications are exposed. This chapter aims to make a contribution to academic literature, as little research has been conducted analyzing knowledge transfer between universities and enterprises in emergent economies.

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