The Geographies of Knowledge Transfer: A Case Study of Two Research Intensive Universities
This thesis examines the geographical factors that can work to either hinder or facilitate the transfer of knowledge from research-intensive universities to their broader communities. It focuses solely on knowledge transfer in the basic and applied sciences. This examination is set within the broader context of the changing role of the university in the knowledge economy. A case study approach is employed to compare and contrast the institutional histories, intellectual property policies (IP), and the regional geographies of two research-intensive universities in Ontario, Canada---Queen's University and the University of Waterloo. Data from twenty-five semi-structured interviews with faculty members, students, and university personnel were incorporated into this case study. A theme-based content analysis approach was also undertaken to uncover key themes from a broad literature base, including literature on the general context of the knowledge economy, critical literature on the role of the university; knowledge transfer; IP policies; regional economic development; and literature on the perceived 'cultural gap' between academics and practitioners. The main findings from this study are that the process of knowledge transfer is affected by (1) university-specific IP policies, (2) the region of operation, and (3) academic culture. This topic is timely and relevant because government funding structures and the political climate in Canada has altered the expectations of universities. Universities can no longer operate as 'ivory towers', conducting research in relative isolation from society. They are now expected to conduct research with potential for commercial activity and/or industrial relevance.
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