The Role of Universities in Inter-organizational Knowledge Collaborations

Ardalan Haghighi Talab, Victor Scholten, Cees van Beers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Organizations collaborate with external actors in order to acquire knowledge resources they cannot develop internally for economic and/or technical reasons. Mode 2 and Triple Helix models have examined the role of different organizational types in collaborative creation and knowledge use. This paper is an empirical investigation on whether universities differ from business-oriented or industrial organization types with regard to the extent of their knowledge collaborations. Using SEM methodology, it demonstrates the role of universities in knowledge collaboration through a survey of 472 organizations in the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development of the European Commission, Energy theme (FP7-Energy). In line with the Triple Helix model, universities are found to exhibit more extensive knowledge collaboration than businesses. Also, between-university collaborations are found to be more extensive knowledge collaboration relationship types than between-business relationships. The findings imply that (1) publically funded consortia should be aware that universities are more conducive and hence more effective in inter-organizational knowledge collaboration networks than other organizational types, particularly compared to for-profit business organizations. Universities should be included in these consortia. (2) Business organizations that do not have an extensive relationship with universities need to reconsider their partner portfolio and extend the knowledge collaboration of their network by connecting to more universities.(3) Policymakers should not only involve academic organizations but also include groups of more than one university per consortium to enable between-university knowledge collaboration to boost collaborative knowledge exploration and exploitation of the consortia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Knowledge Economy
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Inter-organizational
  • Knowledge collaboration
  • Triple Helix
  • University

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