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Strategic choice in universities: Managerial agency and effective technology transfer

Sam Horner, Dilani Jayawarna, Benito Giordano and Oswald Jones

Research Policy, 2019, vol. 48, issue 5, 1297-1309

Abstract: Current theorising about the contingencies underpinning the effectiveness of university technology transfer has emphasised the importance of organisational support, namely the scale of Technology Transfer Office (TTO) support and the provision of incentives. Empirical results pertaining to the effects of these organisational supports are mixed. More recently, academic research and policy reviews have highlighted the potential significance of the strategic choices made by university managers in contributing to the effectiveness of technology transfer activity. Our research attempts to reconcile these two streams of technology transfer research by drawing on Child’s strategic choice theory as an integrating framework. Through operationalising a strategic choice framework and drawing upon data from 115 UK universities (collected through multiple waves of the HE-BCI Survey), this research shows that supporting organisational infrastructure is necessary but not sufficient to account for improved technology transfer effectiveness. Specifically, it highlights the key mediating role of strategic choice, suggesting that it is the alignment between strategic choices made by university managers and the supporting organisational infrastructure that accounts for variations in technology transfer effectiveness. Furthermore, we find the mediation relationship between strategic alignment and technology transfer effectiveness is moderated by the breadth of strategic planning efforts, with those universities that engage a wider number of faculty in strategic planning efforts benefiting most from the alignment between strategic choices and supporting organisational infrastructure.

Keywords: Strategic choice; Technology transfer; Contingency theory; Commercialization; University-Industry (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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