How Technology-Based University Research Drives Innovation in Europe and China : Leveraging the power of proximity
Journal of Technology Management in China
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to assess how technology-based university research drives innovation in Europe and China. Design/methodology/approach - This paper draws on extensive theoretical research and literature reviews, and presents a framework based on theories on networking, knowledge creation and innovation. It then introduces three European cases to illustrate practical applications of the framework, and also links the findings to three Chinese cases to make comparative observations as well as recommendations related to Triple Helix concepts and their implications in the China context. It addresses the issue of how learning from universities can enhance company flexibility and performance in innovation, and outlines three different models of collaboration. Findings - The framework and empirical research suggests that weak ties are useful for inspiration in exploration, but that strong industry-university (I-U) ties are required to support exploitation. This finding applies both to Europe and China in the industries covered. Originality/value - This paper provides a new theoretical rationale for I-U learning alliances as a natural way out from the managerial problem of trying to perform both exploration and exploitation within the same company boundaries. Through the theoretical framework, the academic science domain becomes a logical partner to handle the full phase of exploration and support the process of exploitation. The presented European cases of Bang & Olufsen, Combibloc and Porsche offer new insights into how to perform this act in practice, while the three China-related cases allow us to cross analyse empirical findings and draw initial conclusions with policy implications for China.
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