Title: Absorptive capacity in collaborative technology transfer - a practice perspective on four cases in optics in the USA and Germany

Authors: Frank Lerch; Gordon Müller-Seitz; Robert Wagner

Addresses: Helmut Schmidt University (University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg), Holstenhofweg 85, 22043 Hamburg, Germany ' Free University of Berlin, Boltzmannstr. 20, 14195 Berlin, Germany ' Free University of Berlin, Boltzmannstr. 20, 14195 Berlin, Germany

Abstract: Previous studies on the concept of absorptive capacity predominantly emphasise static aspects and for the most part utilise quantitative methods. In contrast, the present comparative case study reverts to the concept of Todorova and Durisin (2007) and adopts a practice perspective in order to explore the ways in and circumstances under which absorptive capacity actually unfolds. Basing our work upon findings from four case studies in the optics industry in the USA and Germany, we contribute to the literature by illustrating how collaborative technology transfer between research institutions and private sector companies happens. We highlight the absorption practices involved - the role of meeting management and information exchange practices - and the framing conditions that facilitate such an exchange, namely boundary spanners and power relationships, the institutional and regional embeddedness of actors involved, as well as social factors that serve as a 'glue' for absorptive capacity.

Keywords: technology transfer; USA; United States; collaborative transfers; practice perspectives; optics industry; Gergana Todorova; Boris Durisin; research institutions; private sector; absorption practices; information exchange; boundary spanners; power relationships; institutional embeddedness; regional embeddedness; social factors; Semprius; spin-off companies; University of Illinois; Harvard University; Kapillarsys; eagleyard Photonics; Ferdinand-Braun-Institut; Academy of Sciences; East Germany; universities; higher education; New York University; X-Ray Corporation; knowledge management; KM; organisational learning; strategic learning; absorptive capacity.

DOI: 10.1504/IJKMS.2012.051942

International Journal of Knowledge Management Studies, 2012 Vol.5 No.1/2, pp.66 - 88

Accepted: 05 Jul 2012
Published online: 05 Feb 2013 *

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