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How knowledge flows in university-industry relations: An overview from two economic sectors in Brazil

Gustavo Dalmarco (School of Management, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil)
Paulo Antônio Zawislak (School of Management, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil)
Willem Hulsink (Department of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship, Rotterdam School of Management - Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Flávio Brambilla (School of Management, Universidade de Santa Cruz do Sul (UNISC), Santa Cruz do Sul, Brazil)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 9 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to characterize the knowledge flow between companies and universities based on national and sectoral systems of innovation perspective. It is argued here that high-tech sectors can describe a knowledge flow mainly based on scientific research, while sectors with lower technological impact may establish relations based on technical needs.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study research was conducted in the horticulture and aerospace sectors in Brazil. Thirteen interviews were performed with chief executive officer’s and academic researchers from both fields.

Findings

Results demonstrated differences in technology development and knowledge infrastructure when comparing both sectors, reflecting the impacts of national and sectoral systems of innovation. The horticulture sector presented technological limitations due to restricted eating habits, logistics, knowledge development at universities and difficulties on the establishment of partnerships between local companies and Embrapa, the main public research centre. Such restrictions limit academic activities while companies look for research partnerships abroad. Space industry also has limited technological development due to international embargoes and lack of research alignment between companies and universities. Companies end up developing research activities internally, usually funded by governmental tenders.

Research limitations/implications

The horticulture sector has limitations, as it is not the main agriculture area in science and technology applications. Future studies may analyse areas like soy beans, sugar cane and coffee, which may present differences specially regarding sectoral systems of innovation.

Originality/value

The finding of this paper may influence the review of sectoral innovation policies, improving the development of local research activities which may be a source of valuable knowledge to companies. It also demonstrates the importance of the knowledge flow to improve sector’s technology level.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the reviewer and editor for valuable suggestions. The authors also thank CAPES and CNPq for the financial support during this research.

Citation

Dalmarco, G., Zawislak, P.A., Hulsink, W. and Brambilla, F. (2015), "How knowledge flows in university-industry relations: An overview from two economic sectors in Brazil", European Business Review, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 148-160. https://doi.org/10.1108/EBR-04-2013-0068

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited