University of Sussex
Gutiérrez, Nicolás.pdf (4.58 MB)

The integration of complementary knowledge through collaboration among public R&D organisations: lessons from the agri-biotechnology innovation system in Uruguay

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posted on 2023-06-09, 04:25 authored by Nicolás Gutiérrez
Research and technological development processes increasingly entail inter-organisational collaboration for the access and integration of external complementary knowledge, especially within emergent technological innovation systems and small developing countries. Collaborative efforts aggregate capabilities of individual actors into system-level innovation capacity, fostering technological and innovation outcomes from both individual organisations and the technological system as a whole. Significant understanding of these interactive processes has been achieved by previous research on innovation systems, inter-organisational collaboration and networks, and studies of interdisciplinary scientific research. Nevertheless, further knowledge is required on how and why organisations may differ in their ability to collaboratively exploit potential complementarities. Consequently, this thesis examines institutional and organisational factors that influence the actual extent of knowledge integration achieved by public research organisations through collaborative research endeavours, within the agri-biotechnology innovation system in Uruguay. The research followed a mixed empirical method. Exploratory interviews with members of public R&D groups and firms were conducted in order to reach a preliminary understanding of the main forces affecting collaboration and knowledge integration. Quantitative indicators of the degree of knowledge-integration achieved by R&D groups’ collaborative links were designed and computed using data gathered through a survey of R&D group members. Indicators were also developed to statistically assess how the extent of collaborative knowledge-integration achieved by an R&D group is influenced by system-level incentive institutions, by the absorptive and relational capacities of the group, and by the compliance of the group with local scientific assessment and reward mechanisms. This thesis makes various theoretical contributions and draws relevant policy implications. The results show that members of R&D groups may exert differing levels of influence on knowledge-integration. Specifically, postgraduate students were found to play a relevant bridging role, enhancing the ability of the group to access knowledge from complementary disciplines. The study also found consistent evidence of a negative relation between an R&D group’s compliance with local scientific incentives, and the group’s ability to collaboratively integrate complementary knowledge-assets. Therefore, formal incentive institutions are presumably affecting the exploitation of potential synergies among local knowledge resources and hence the learning and innovation capabilities and the cohesion of the entire agri-biotechnology innovation system. As a methodological contribution, this thesis develops novel indicators to assess the degree of inter-organisational complementarity that go beyond those used in previous research.


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