University-industry biotechnology research collaborations in Australia: a pilot study on the role of trust

Beryl Morris, Robert A. Hunt

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This paper seeks to shed light on the management of university-industry collaborations that underpin science-based industry sectors such as biotechnology. Firms in the science-driven biotechnology sector are likely to draw upon universities and research institutes for knowledge and human capital via research collaborations but the literature is replete with studies that have found serious problems in such activity. Clearly, the development of effective management techniques for such a large, growing and important activity is a matter for serious concern. To date, studies of university-industry collaborations have treated them as static phenomena. Rather, practitioners see collaboration as constantly evolving and involving multi-stages, often between parties from diverse work cultures that subsequently form a barrier to the development of trust and further optimisation of the collaboration. Other researchers have provided many insights for managing university-industry collaborations. However, there has been no work on the interplay of personal and institutional trust in the dynamics of collaborations as they progress through their many stages to closure. This paper describes a quantitative/qualitative method called Multi-criteria Mapping (MCM) and its application in a pilot study designed to capture the wide variety of perspectives among a selection of university and industry collaboration participants. At the same time, MCM was found to be helpful to the participants in furthering their understanding of the collaborations they were discussing. Research questions underpinning this study relate to perceptions of trust in the management of university-industry collaborations in the biotechnology area in Australia.


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