Pathways to impact and the strategic role of universities

See on Scoop.itDual impact of research; towards the impactelligent university


There has been an increasing focus on the strategic role of universities in stimulating innovation and economic growth, primarily though the transfer of technology. This paper interrogates some

of the key aspects of much of the conventional wisdom concerning the transfer of technology and the knowledge exchange process in general. It analyses the results from two unique surveys: a survey of the UK academic community which generated more than 22,000

responses; and stratified survey of businesses which generated more than 2500 responses. The paper shows that there are many knowledge exchange mechanisms used by academics – these include commercialisation processes but also many other ‘hidden’ connections. It also shows that knowledge exchange involves

academics from all disciplines – not just those from science and engineering – and involves partners from the public and third (not for profit) sectors as well as private sector businesses. Furthermore, it shows that the main constraints that hinder or limit the knowledge exchange process include a lack of time, in sufficient internal capability to manage relationships; and insufficient information to identify partners. Problems concerning cultural differences between academics and business and disputes concerning intellectual

property are not prominent. Overall, the paper suggests that the notion of an academic ‘ivory tower’ seems to be a myth as far as the UK is concerned. It al so suggests that a strategic focus on

strengthening connections between academia and the rest of society may generate long-term benefits but it will also face challenges and should not distort or divert from the foundations of scholarship on which the success of universities are built.


Key Words:

Universities, Impact, Knowledge Exchange, Technology Transfer





Centre for Business Research, Univers

ity of Cambridge Working Paper No. 435


Alan Hughes

Centre for Business Research

Judge Business School

University of Cambridge

Cambridge CB2 1AG




Michael Kitson

Centre for Business Research

Judge Business School

University of Cambridge

Cambridge CB2 1AG

September 2012



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About Wilfred Mijnhardt
RMIMR is my virtual playground, a place to reflect on issues from my professional context, my job as Policy Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). RSM is the international university based business school at Erasmus University Rotterdam. More info here: Here is my list of relevant publications on the topic of my RMIMR weblog: The rss feed for my RMIMR collection is here: Here is my other weblog on impact of research:

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