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University-industry collaboration : a CoPs approach to KTPs

Gertner, Drew and Roberts, Joanne and Charles, David (2011) University-industry collaboration : a CoPs approach to KTPs. Journal of Knowledge Management, 15 (4). pp. 625-647. ISSN 1367-3270

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Abstract

Purpose – This article seeks to explore the micro-dimensions of knowledge transfer partnerships (KTPs) with the aim of developing an appreciation of the personal interactions that facilitate the success of these university-industry collaborations. Design/methodology/approach – Empirical evidence concerning the operation of three KTPs, collected through interviews with the key partners and the review of relevant documentary material, is analysed through the lens of the communities of practice approach to situated learning. Findings – The analysis of three case studies provides evidence to support the value of conceptualising the process of knowledge transfer between universities and industry as one of learning taking place within communities in which the development of mutual engagement, joint enterprise and shared repertoires play important roles facilitating successful collaborations. Moreover, the analysis highlights the significance of the boundary spanning roles of the KTP partners in facilitating the knowledge transfer process through engagement in both the university and industry communities. Research limitations/implications – By illuminating the dimensions of the inter-personal interactions involved in the knowledge transfer process the CoPs analysis provides the foundations for recommendations to improve university-industry KTPs, in particular, and, inter-organisational knowledge transfer initiatives in general. A limitation of this research is its focus on the UK context. Moreover, given the exploratory nature of this study further research is required to verify the findings reported here. Originality/value – The article makes an original empirical and conceptual contribution to understandings of university-industry knowledge transfer collaborations