Full citation

Clauss, T. and T. Kesting (2017). "How businesses should govern knowledge-intensive collaborations with universities: An empirical investigation of university professors." Industrial Marketing Management 62: 185-198.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Non-experimental study

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: This paper elaborates on the finer aspects of governance and knowledge sharing between universities and businesses (UBC). Knowledge takes the form of information, practical knowledge, and feedback. Different types of governance affect relationships formed in the name of furthering innovation. Research can examine knowledge generation through many polarities. Knowledge sharing among parties can be distinguished from jointly created knowledge; integration of knowledge is not necessarily the same as knowledge utilization.

Governance mechanisms are frameworks that facilitate knowledge sharing and joint-creation. They serve to structure the exchange relationships and address risks such as intellectual property conflicts. They define norms, dictate activities and foster bonds. Transactional governances are formal partnerships that prioritize economic and address intellectual property concerns legally whereas relational governance emphasizes personal ties and relies on interpersonal relationships to build trust in order to prevent unethical monopolization of shared knowledge.

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant: Large business, Small Business, University.

Knowledge user(s) to whom the piece of literature may be relevant: Brokers, Manufacturers, Researchers.

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Basic

This article uses the Commercial Devices and Services version of the NtK Model

Primary findings


  • Businesses and academia have different cultures which create different motivations for the organizations and their respective actors. These disparities can provoke tensions that are potentially detrimental to the project. 
    Survey findings
    Occurrences within model: NtK Step 2.3, KtA 6.C
  • University professors value research which they can publish to further their careers whereas businesses are incentivized to keep discoveries private in the spirit of competition.
    Survey findings
    Occurrences within model: 1.4, KTA 3.A
  • There is potential for one party to behave opportunistically and appropriate the benefits of the collaboration.
    Survey findings
    Occurrences within model: NtK Step 2.3


Collaboration with universities has some distinct advantages over partnerships with other businesses:

  • Access to professors as individual decision makers
  • Framework for assigning intellectual property rights to knowledge
  • Reducing the danger of opportunistic behavior 

Survey findings
Occurrences within model: Occurrences: NtK Step 2.3


Transactional governance signified by legally binding terms is more prudent for short term projects than relational governance, which requires time to produce trust-based working relationships.
Survey findings
Occurrences within model: NtK steps 4.1, 4.4


Knowledge sharing in university-business collaboration (UBC) occurs under both transactional and relational governance. Knowledge sharing in a UBC includes knowledge combination, learning, and copoiesis (co-creation). This process contributes to achievement of joint goals.
Survey findings
Occurrences within model: NtK Step 1.3, 2.1