University-industry relationships and the role of the individual: networking ties and the diversity of knowledge transfer

Industry and Higher Education

In recent years, considerable attention has been paid to the effectiveness of knowledge transfer processes between academia and industry. Although there is growing evidence that the characteristics of individual researchers are important when explaining cases of successful transfer, few studies have taken the individual researcher as their unit of analysis. This study uses social network theory techniques to gain a better insight into knowledge transfer processes. In particular, the authors study how the characteristics of ties among individuals and the interdisciplinary and pervasive nature of research affect the diversity of knowledge transfer activities. To this end, an empirical study was conducted among researchers in the field of nanotechnology, a sector chosen for its interdisciplinary nature and expected pervasiveness. Data were collected using a survey carried out in Spain and The Netherlands, allowing the authors to correct for environmental and contextual effects.