Trust Formation in University–Industry Collaborations in the U.S. Biotechnology Industry: IP Policies, Shared Governance, and Champions


Haggling over rights to potential inventions can be a major roadblock to successful university–industry (UI) collaborations. Yet such collaborations are critical for innovation in science-based industries. This study examines the roles of universities' intellectual property (IP) policies and of shared governance for trust formation between academe and industry. The study also examines how UI champions moderate this process and how trust between university and industry partners affects UI collaboration outcomes. The analysis of survey data of 105 recent UI collaborations in the U.S. biotechnology industry indicates that the flexibility and transparency of university IP policies and shared governance by UI partners are both positively related to trust formation. The activities of UI champions amplify the positive effects of shared governance and at the same time reduce the importance of university IP policies for trust formation between UI partners. The amount of trust between partners is positively related to knowledge transfer and innovation performance. The findings suggest that despite widely reported industry concerns over the control of IP, UI research partners can develop a trustful environment and thereby plant the seeds for a successful collaboration. In order to enhance trust, companies should not only consider university IP policies, but also need to actively engage in shared governance with university partners. UI collaboration champions can help shift the attention of company managers from formal rules set by university IP policies toward shared project planning, coordination, and implementation with university partners.



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Journal of Product Innovation Management



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