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The adoption of knowledge integration mechanisms in an interdisciplinary research project

Paolo Canonico (Dipartimento di Economia, Management, Istituzioni Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Napoli, Italy)
Ernesto De Nito (Dipartimento di Scienze Giuridiche, Storiche, Economiche e Sociali, Universita degli Studi Magna Graecia di Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy)
Vincenza Esposito (DEMM Universita degli Studi del Sannio, Benevento, Italy)
Marcello Martinez (Dipartimento di Economia, Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Caserta, Italy)
Mario Pezzillo Iacono (Dipartimento di Economia, Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Caserta, Italy)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




This paper aims to study knowledge integration mechanisms in an interdisciplinary research project. It develops the theoretical literature on the concept of knowledge integration, particularly the adoption of different organizational mechanisms. The research helps to explain how to adopt different integration mechanisms in the various steps of a typical university industry research project.


This research relies on a case study. The authors used three data collection techniques: internal document analysis, observation/site visits and semi-structured interviews. Documentary analysis was used to understand the organizational structure and to identify knowledge integration issues. Observation and site visits at university research laboratories were used to increase understanding on particular issues. Staff interviewed included managers and academic researchers.


Findings are primarily related to a better understanding of choices of knowledge integration mechanisms in a university industry research project. A crucial aspect was the level of mutual understanding of specialist knowledge. When project members were derived from different sides of the university-industry border, there was a major need for recurring to more structured knowledge integration mechanisms, even if the scientific background of participants was homogeneous.


Previous studies on the relationships between university and industry deals with the issue of governing the knowledge exchange on the border at a macro level; conversely, an interesting research gap is represented by knowledge integration mechanisms to be deployed on the university-industry border, especially at micro level. In this paper, the authors do not cope explicitly with university-industry coordination mechanisms but use the University-Industry border to study knowledge integration in interdisciplinary setting. The study is exploratory, which may be useful in generating future research hypotheses, connecting the features of research projects with the need to achieve knowledge integration.



One of the authors (Paolo Canonico) acknowledges that this research was carried out in the frame of Programme STAR (2013, L1 Napoli_call2013_23), financially supported by UniNA and Compagnia di San Paolo.


Canonico, P., De Nito, E., Esposito, V., Martinez, M. and Iacono, M.P. (2017), "The adoption of knowledge integration mechanisms in an interdisciplinary research project", Management Research Review, Vol. 40 No. 5, pp. 604-622.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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