The Unequal Partnership

The Unequal Partnership

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3652-9.ch003
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Abstract

In this chapter, we will discuss the unequal partnership between industry and academy when dealing with IP and its usage. The main parameters towards economic growth when dealing with knowledge creation and market introduction of said knowledge relate, to knowledge management and protection are mentioned. These issues refer to the ability of the academy to research all, but often the permission to commercialize only part (FTO), and the ability of the industry to commercialize combined with its limitations on research (Porath, 2010). Among other topics to be discussed are the knowledge gap between basic research and applied research, and the role of translational research. The role of basic research institutes, the role of industrial research organization (regional or national), and the competition between such institutes and the alternative, the R&D support program.
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The Basis For The Inequality

There are many possible types of R&D support from the government or program funding point of view. These are mentioned elsewhere in this book when dealing with the different types of programs. However, there are some basic understandings common to them all.

While knowledge may originate from different sources, firms, academic research institutes, national and regional applied research institutes, to mention just the main sources, the tools to translate that knowledge into economic gains (including employment), are mostly just the firms. The firms being economic organizations, oriented towards profit making, and value creation are the natural translators of knowledge into economic and social tools, and therefore at the end of the R&D effort, will play a major role.

The same natural role ascribed to the firms, also includes certain organizational aspects which set them apart from the other sources of knowledge mentioned above. Therefore, whenever dealing with a combination of players in the R&D program projects, a combination of different types of organizations, the different organizational cultural aspects tend to present a potential conflict. While if the players all come from a certain specific single type of organization a conflict may arise from competition between the players. Of course, when dealing with a single player project there are no conflicts. Internal conflict between different departments in a single player, rarely come to the attention of the program.

Considering the above when designing or executing an R&D program the following potential conflicts (except for the single player programs) need to be considered:

  • 1.

    Competition conflict – between players from the same type, easily evident among firms in the project.

  • 2.

    Organizational culture conflict – between players of different types, the easiest to demonstrate is between academic institutes and industrial firms.

When dealing with a program supporting large consortia of both firms and different types of research organizations, both types of conflicts may exist and need to be dealt with in order to allow for a smooth operation of the supported projects.

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Origins Of The Conflict: Single Type

Whenever dealing with same type of organizations there is a danger of a conflict derived from competition between the players. It is easier to understand that a project in which several firms are involved, developing a joint technology that the firms are operating under the “fear” imagined or real of each other. The firms if involved in a specific project would have some link or affinity to the relevant sector / market intended to the technology to be developed. That is to say that they are probably to some level competing with each other in the market place. Even if to a certain level, they are not competing but are rather cooperating or even supplying each other, there is always the danger that they may become competitors due to the shared knowledge and similar abilities developed within the project. Another potential danger is that the larger firms may decide that the want to take over the smaller firms, once they identify their weaknesses during the cooperation in the project.

So, competition, or potential competition as well as taking over, whether real or imagined, are dangers that the program designer and executioner need to consider, and prepare to deal with, if they want the program to support functioning projects.

It is mentioned that the danger may be real or imagined as the firms in many cases have no predesigned strategies against the other participants, but have fears grounded in stories heard, or in past negative experiences1.

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