Exploring practices in university-industry collaborations: the case of collaborative doctoral program in France

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Abstract : University-Industry (U-I) collaborative Ph.D. is one particular channel amongst a wide range of methods for firms to access academic knowledge. While often presented as a mean for firms to hire Ph.D. candidates or to address problem-solving issues, U-I collaborative Ph.D. could constitute an interesting proxy to deeper explore U-I collaborations goals and principles. We focus here on (1) what could be the different archetypes of U-I collaborative Ph.D. in terms of R&D strategies and collaboration forms? (2) In what extent firms and universities contribute to new knowledge co-development and unknown exploration through those collaborations? This exploratory study was based on an original date set of 90 collaboration agreements between laboratories and companies through the French “CIFRE” programme. First, we developed a coding scheme to classify each project between three collaboration forms (outsourcing of knowledge development / knowledge transfer & absorptive capacity / knowledge co-development) and three R&D strategies (process or product improvement / new competences enhancement / new innovation area exploration). Second, we computed descriptive statistical analyses to define four main archetypes of U-I collaborative Ph.D. As a result, the archetypes definition provided a more comprehensive vision of the literature on U-I collaborative Ph.D. projects that were appearing fragmented. We also highlighted that there was a high share of projects aiming at co-developing new knowledge for unknown exploration in our limited sample. We finally discussed (1) institutional factors that could favour this orientation and (2) possibilities to extend the scope of the study.

Plantec, Q., Cabanes, B., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2019). Exploring Practices In University-Industry Collaborations: The Case Of Collaborative Doctoral Program In France. R&D Management Conference 2019, Palaiseau, France

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