Academy-Industry interactions at three different stages of the linking process: Micro evidence from the perspective of both agents
De Fuentes, Claudia
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Academy-industry linkages can play an important role for economic development. Both agents can benefit from interaction, but they have a different perspective regarding the reasons to interact, the main knowledge flows and the benefits derived from the interaction. The main aim of this paper is to analyze these interactions from both perspectives during three different stages of the linking process: i) main reasons to interact; ii) knowledge flows during the interaction; and iii) main results derived from interaction. This study is based on original data collected by two surveys carried out in Mexico during 2008, to R&D and product development managers of firms and to academic researchers; 341 innovative firms and 451 academic researchers answered the questionnaire.3 We performed descriptive statistics and multivariate analysis techniques to analyze the data. Main characteristics of academy-industry in Mexico are: academy is not the main but an important source of knowledge for firms; human resources mobility is an important knowledge flow mechanism from firms´ perspective; academy-industry interaction is more intense for ‘radical innovation’ than for incremental innovation; and researchers oriented to applied science and technological development are those who interact more with firms, but basic science researchers also interact. Concerning to the stages of the linking process, for the first stage we found that firms’ main reasons to interact are to increase their basic/intermediate technological capabilities and to complement them. The main barrier to interaction from both perspectives is the lack of knowledge of each one of the agents regarding the activities of the other. An additional barrier for firms is their belief that they have enough in-house capabilities, which may reveal a limited concern to absorb external knowledge. For the second stage, we found that researchers and firms have different perspectives regarding the importance of knowledge flows; firms value more knowledge flows from human resources, while researchers find more important collaborative R&D and consultancy as knowledge flows mechanisms. For the third stage, we identified the main benefits from interaction analyzing both perspectives, even though the interactions are not broadly spread in Mexico, those researchers and firms engaged in collaboration categorize them as successful, benefiting from the use of installations, publications, prototypes, etc. However, differences in the perception of benefits from both agents limit interactions and thus the possibility to initiate virtuous circles in the production and diffusion of knowledge.