The duality of innovation : implications for the role of the university in economic development
Author(s)Martínez Vela, Carlos Andrés, 1973-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division.
Richard K. Lester.
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The university is increasingly seen as an engine of regional economic development. Since the 1980s the university's role has been framed in terms of its contribution to industrial innovation. The conventional wisdom views this contribution as occurring primarily through the technology transfer model. The university, in this way of thinking, must move closer to industry and the marketplace by translating research into deliverables for commercialization. This dissertation challenges the empirical validity of this view. Two case studies of industrial upgrading form the empirical core of this research: the machinery industry in Tampere, Finland and the NASCAR motorsports industry in Charlotte, North Carolina. In each case I analyze the university's role from the ground up using a conceptual framework that views the innovation as a social process that has a dual nature: analytic and interpretive. From an analytic perspective innovation is a problem-solving activity. From an interpretive perspective innovation is an ongoing conversation. I find that in neither case is the university's most important contribution to each industry's upgrading made through the technology transfer model. In Tampere, whose core innovation process is interpretive, the local university creates spaces for interaction and conversation that enable knowledge integration, provides interlocutors for exploratory conversations, and educates engineers.(cont.) In Charlotte, whose innovation process is analytic, the local university plays essentially no role. NASCAR teams rely on business partners for technology transfer and attempts to make the university active in technology transfer for the industry have yet to succeed. The duality of innovation helps to explain the university's role in the Tampere case and its absence in the Charlotte case. I argue that the technology transfer model implicitly assumes that innovation is analytic and thus misses the interpretive side of innovation. The case study findings suggest three things. First, the university has a distinctive ability to make interpretive contributions to industrial innovation. Second, practices emphasized by the technology transfer model, such as patenting and technology commercialization, do not account for the university's interpretive role. Third and finally, too much emphasis on the technology transfer model may put at risk the university's interpretive capabilities and hence its most distinctive contribution to industrial innovation.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Engineering Systems Division, 2007.Includes bibliographical references (p. 259-269).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Engineering Systems Division.