Who instigates university–industry collaborations? University scientists versus firm employees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


While evidence on the causes and effects of university–industry interaction is abundant, little is known about how, and particularly by whom, such interaction is instigated in the first place and subsequently managed. In this paper, we investigate which mode of collaboration (joint research, contract research, consulting, in-licensing, or informal contacts) is more likely to be initiated and managed by firm employees versus by university scientists. Moreover, we are interested in the differences between small and large firms to see whether initiation and management are affected by firm size. Using a sample of 833 German manufacturing firms, our results indicate that university scientists typically start collaborations with industry, while firm employees would take over the management of projects. Results vary markedly between small and large firms, with university scientists having somewhat higher difficulties initiating collaborations with large firms than with small firms.


External organisations
  • Copenhagen Business School
  • Illinois State University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Business Administration


  • Firm size, Initiation, Management, University–industry collaboration
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-524
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number3
Early online date2016 Aug 23
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Mar
Publication categoryResearch