University research and knowledge transfer: A dynamic view of ambidexterity in british universities
Abhijit Sengupta & Amit S. Ray
Research Policy, 2017, 46(5), 881–897. DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2017.03.008
Highlights: Paper examines the intertemporal linkages between research and knowledge transfer in ambidextrous universities. Past research has a positive marginal impact on commercialisation and academic engagement at university level. Some academic engagement channels positively mediate between past and future research. Organisational size and reputation negatively moderates the link between past research and knowledge transfer. For most universities, the contract research route provides the maximum benefit for enhancing ambidexterity.
Abstract: This paper examines the dynamic interlinkages between the two pillars of ambidexterity in universities, research and knowledge transfer. We propose a theoretical model linking these two pillars at the organisational level. The model is tested using the longitudinal HE-BCI survey data juxtaposed against two consecutive rounds of research evaluation in the UK higher education sector. Results indicate that a university's past performance along the research pillar strengthens the knowledge transfer pillar over time, through both commercialisation and academic engagement channels. This positive impact is negatively moderated by the university's size and reputation, in the sense that in larger or more reputed universities, the marginal impact of research on knowledge transfer declines significantly. Additionally, we find that knowledge transfer reinforces the research pillar through positive mediation between past and future research, but only through academic engagement channels. The results also indicate that contract research routes provide the maximum benefit for most universities in enhancing their ambidexterity framework, both in the short and the long run. For the relatively more reputed universities, it is the collaboration route which provides the maximum benefit. Interestingly, no such reinforcement could be detected in the case of the research commercialisation channels.
Keywords: Knowledge transfer; Academic engagement; Commercialisation; HE-BCI data; University-industry links; Ambidexterity.