Academic Spin-Offs and Technological Innovation Diffusion In Less Successful Areas: A Viable System Approach

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Abstract

This paper aims to analyze the role that academic spin offs play in enhancing and speeding up the development and transfer of technological innovation, particularly in less successful areas. The focus on todays’ knowledge-based economy, has increasingly shown that innovation is a social process (Gibbons et al, 1994; Chesbrough, 2003 and 2011) rooted on the interactions and knowledge exchanges among a variety of actors (such as firms, universities, research organizations, government institutions, and so on). Each of these actors is endowed with idiosyncratic and specialized sets of resources, knowledge and capabilities. As a result, the critical determinants of competitive/innovative advantage rest not only on the innovation capabilities and activities of a single firm, but also on the technological knowledge and capabilities that spread across the environment in which the firm is embedded.In order to shed light on these (internal and external) determinants of innovation, we integrate:i)the viable system perspective (Beer, 1972 and 1984; Golinelli, 2010); withii)the national innovation systems theory (Freeman, 1987; Lundvall, 1992; Soete, 2007); andiii)the triple helix model of innovation (Etzkowitz and Leyersdoff, 1999 and 2000).More in detail, using the holistic approach provided by the viable system perspective, we see the firm as a viable system consisting of a collection of operational elements which are held together by a meta-system. The meta-system and the operational system continuously interact with the environment and are able to be both adaptive and proactive towards external stimuli. Accordingly, this approach analyzes the influence on a single firm exerted by the overlying systemic entities in the environment (named the supra-systems). The integration of the viable system perspective with the aforementioned innovation theories allows to scrutinize the relationships that link academic spin offs with other actors involved in the innovation process. By doing so, we underscore the context conditions and institutions that support academic spin off emergence and development, as well as those that enhance and speed up the transfer of technological knowledge from university to industry.The second part of the paper is aimed to apply the theoretical framework elaborated earlier to examine the case of the business incubator established by the University of Palermo, named "Consorzio Arca", and the academic spin offs it supports. We analyzes this case study in order to assess the capacity of the depicted theoretical framework to deliver a satisfactory explanation of the role that academic spin offs play in enhancing and speeding up the development and transfer of technological innovation, particularly in less successful areas.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine0
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2011

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