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Moreover, the innovativeness of firms participating in university—industry relationships has been shown to be dependent on how successful they are at acquiring and developing knowledge through learning in these collaborative relationships Bruneel et al. This study intends to answer the following research question: How can educational collaboration facilitate relational learning and knowledge creation in university—industry relationships?
To address this question, this article presents nine case examples of successful educational involvement in long-term university—industry research collaboration. The learning process taking place in relationships between industry and universities has been recognized as an essential facilitator of the transfer and integration of new, external knowledge in firms. This relational learning process also helps partners to jointly build new internal capabilities for innovation and to identify ways of joint knowledge development and utilization towards commercial ends Weckowska, In this study, the relational learning approach is applied to the collaboration taking place in university—industry relationships.
Selnes and Sallis define relational learning as a joint activity between two parties, in which they share information, which is then jointly interpreted and integrated into a shared relationship domain-specific memory. In the first phase, knowledge sharing , the partners share and transfer information and knowledge in formal and informal manners within their relationship. In the context of university—industry relationships, the process of knowledge transfer from academia to industry has been studied by several teams of researchers e.
Typical forms of knowledge transfer include jointly organized research projects, training and education, consulting engagements, or thesis supervision. The transfer of technological knowledge is an important part of the relational learning process, because innovative collaboration involves close sharing of experience-based specialized knowledge that is often tacit in nature.
Thus, the joint sensemaking combines the resources, competences. The third phase, knowledge integration, refers to the integration of the jointly developed knowledge, capabilities, and skills into a part of the relational memory owned by the partners. In university—industry collaboration, the partners often integrate the outcomes of their joint development processes as commercialized innovations, prototypes, or academic outcomes Perkmann et al.
To explore the involvement of industrial firm in university education as a part of their innovation collaboration with universities, this study presents a comparative, qualitative multiple case study of nine long-term university—industry relationships in Finland Table 1. The cases were selected purposively following the concept of information-rich cases Patton, All the cases also included educational collaboration that has directly contributed to the relational learning outcomes and innovation capabilities developed in the relationships.
In most of the university—industry relationships studied, the collaboration had started as a research collaboration and the educational aspects evolved gradually over the years of collaboration. The data was collected on each case by means of recorded and transcribed interviews and the analysis of secondary materials, such as websites, company reports, and teaching materials.
Each of the case interviews involved an interviewee on both sides of each case relationship, and all the interviewees were the key contributors to the relationship who also had directly participated in the educational aspects throughout the collaboration. The structure of the interviews were divided into three parts following the three phases of relational learning: 1 knowledge sharing, 2 joint sensemaking, and 3 knowledge integration.
The interview data revealed that the educational collaboration in the selected university—industry relationships included the following four forms of educational collaboration:.
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Table 1. Case study descriptions for the studied relationships between universities and industrial partners. This section presents an analysis of the interview data collected from each case in terms of knowledge sharing, joint sensemaking, and knowledge integration.
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At the end of this section, Table 2 summarizes the key findings. Transferring knowledge is one the primary drivers of innovation in inter-organizational collaboration Tsai, in which both partners have to share their own previous knowledge and information that can often be tacit or experimental in nature.
Therefore, the knowledge sharing and transfer in university—industry relationships requires engagement and commitment to the collaboration from both parties Ankrah et al. The interview data showed that efficient knowledge transfer in the educational collaboration was based on long-term and close collaboration and person-level relationships between industrial actors and universities:.
We started to participate to the educational activities quite recently, since we felt that it could support our research collaboration. The interview data also revealed that perhaps the most important form of educational knowledge transfer in the cases studied is different kinds of thesis projects:. This way, the students become integrated into the industrial way of working, and many of them have also continued to work as employees of the industrial partner after graduation.
The interview data also revealed that thesis projects can only be successful when the student writing the thesis is able to obtain relevant and good-quality supervision from both sides of the relationship. The interview data in cases B and D also emphasizes the meaning of jointly organized courses in knowledge transfer between parties. Based on the interviews, these kinds of courses seem to be an effective way of gaining knowledge and skills in a new research area on both sides of the relationship:.
The idea is to invite lecturers from both our organization and from our university partner to give lectures on the topic, which we then discuss together. Personally, I feel that this kind of joint working is a really effective way of gaining knowledge on the area in question, and it definitely benefits both parties.
The interview data in cases B and D also shows that the joint educational activities have improved the knowledge transfer, interaction, and communication between the partners also outside the course activities.
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This is because the courses usually involve new people in the collaboration from both sides and help them to connect. This, in turn, often facilitates the development of new ideas and initiatives for further research directions:. In this effort, the partners can bring their own skills, knowledge, and earlier experience to the collaborative process and jointly create new, experimental knowledge.
In the context of educational involvement, different kinds of student projects represent a central form of joint sensemaking between universities and industry. The purpose of the student projects is to involve university students in building a project around subjects provided by industry so that they can utilize their studies and apply the studied content in practice.
In my opinion, students are very motivated to work on these projects. The students are particularly eager to collect information and use their knowledge to solve problems provided by the industrial partner, especially when it also involves this work.
Thus, the interview data emphasized the importance of student projects as a valuable research resource in the joint research projects. They also increase our knowledge in the areas dealt with by the project work topics. However, the majority of the interviewees also recognized that the student project work can only be successful when is properly guided and supervised by both industrial and academic parties:.
Naturally, we have to put in extra effort to guide this work, but in any case it is a great learning experience for all of us. Another educational aspect of the collaboration includes dedicated degree courses for university students. The motivation behind these courses is usually a practical need for certain specific and unique skills that the industrial partner is lacking.
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The partner university then organizes this kind of education for its students, who were typically near to graduation:. This way, we have been able to recruit graduates with a certain important competences. In some cases, the industrial partner has also provided teaching materials or tools to support university education in the selected field:. This collaboration on dedicated degree courses is also important in terms of knowledge transfer, because many of the students who passed these courses ended up becoming employees of the companies:.
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The knowledge integration in university—industry relationships may involve the industrial commercialization of jointly developed innovations or technological solutions, such as commercialized product, process or service innovations, prototypes or other practical outcomes of the joint development work Perkmann et al. In the case interviews, the interviewees were asked about the practical outcomes of the educational collaboration:.joabj.info/4693-puig-de-la.php
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Thesis projects and student group projects are typical examples of educational outcomes that have practical value for industry. Above all TLC is made up of experts who are available to assist you with your projects. These meetings between professors to discuss specific pedagogic topics aim to facilitate the circulation of pedagogic practices to enhance the knowledge and skills of the teaching staff and to identify possible shared projects.
CIL members are elected faculty representatives. The objective is to support innovative projects that work to facilitate rapid and sustainable anchoring of knowledge and increased mobilisation of students in their learning process.