Title: Alliances with universities - how firms absorb and apply knowledge

Authors: Michael D. Santoro; Shanthi Gopalakrishnan

Addresses: College of Business and Economics, Lehigh University, 621 Taylor Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA ' School of Management, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights, Newark NJ 07102, USA

Abstract: Expanding on the notion that absorptive capacity is a multi-dimensional construct, we elaborate on a pivotal component of absorptive capacity, applying external knowledge (AEK), by examining the extent to which certain key internal and external factors are related to AEK. Using survey questionnaire data from senior executives in firms collaborating with university research centres our focus was AEK with respect to advancing new products, new processes, and improvements to existing products and processes. Results show that a more technologically uncertain environment is positively associated with AEK and the firm age is associated with AEK in a curvilinear, inverted U-shape fashion such that as firms mature they apply external knowledge better up to a certain point until diminishing returns come into play. We also found tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge moderate these relationships in different ways. We conclude with implications for future theory development, empirical research, and management practice.

Keywords: strategic alliances; knowledge transfer; knowledge application; industry-university alliances; absorptive capacity; university-industry cooperation; industrial collaboration; external knowledge; university research centres; firm age; tacit knowledge; explicit knowledge.

DOI: 10.1504/IJKMS.2015.071768

International Journal of Knowledge Management Studies, 2015 Vol.6 No.2, pp.175 - 199

Received: 31 Aug 2014
Accepted: 23 Jul 2015

Published online: 17 Sep 2015 *

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