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Title: Industry-university collaboration and absorptive capacity: an empirical study in a Swedish context

Authors: Thomas Biedenbach; Agneta Marell; Vladimir Vanyushyn

Addresses: Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden ' Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden ' Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the role of firms' absorptive capacity in industry-university collaboration and, in particular, whether absorptive capacity moderates the effects of university collaboration on firms' innovativeness. Having defined absorptive capacity as the recognition, assimilation and application of valuable external knowledge for commercial purposes, we formulated three hypotheses pertaining to firm innovativeness and tested them in an original survey comprising a representative multi-industry sample of 1,532 Swedish firms. The results suggest that benefiting from university cooperation is conditional upon the firm's level of absorptive capacity. At low levels of absorptive capacity, engaging with universities does not translate into any noticeable increase in innovative output. In contrast, medium to high levels of absorptive capacity is where a firm benefit most from collaborating with a university. We also show that these effects are more pronounced for firms operating in sectors characterised by lower levels of technology and knowledge intensity.

Keywords: industry-university collaboration; innovation performance; absorptive capacity; ABSCAP; moderating effect; business-university collaboration; academic collaboration; innovativeness; innovative output; knowledge intensity; technology intensity; survey; multi-industry sample; cross-sectoral study; Sweden.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2018.088705

International Journal of Technology Management, 2018 Vol.76 No.1/2, pp.81 - 103

Available online: 08 Dec 2017 *

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