Tracing the mechanisms of science-industry knowledge transfer: a critical realist study within a food research institute

Zimpel Leal, Karla (2017) Tracing the mechanisms of science-industry knowledge transfer: a critical realist study within a food research institute. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The compelling challenges facing the food industry call for imminent action. Nutrition, obesity, food safety, and food and health are examples of unprecedented pressures that a single organisation is not in a position to address alone. In recognising the growing concern to address these challenges, this study has focused on the transference of knowledge from the Institute of Food Research (IFR) to food manufacturer SMEs in the UK. This study investigates three knowledge transfer projects within IFR by identifying the mechanisms driving them.
The study is positioned in the science-industry knowledge transfer literature. An analysis of this literature leads to the conclusion that current studies rely heavily on correlations with positivist assumptions, with a deficit of explanatory accounts. There is also a lack of studies that look at knowledge transfer at different levels of analysis. The aim of this study is to offer a mechanismic explanation for how and why knowledge transfer happened in these three projects. From empirical data from 52 interviews with individuals involved in the projects, observations from industry and science events, and document analysis, a novel process-tracing methodology was employed to trace the generative mechanisms for each project.
The data are analysed from a critical realist perspective. An explanatory account is provided through the incorporation of a multilevel framework that includes structure, agency and interaction levels. Through qualitative analysis, abductive reasoning and systematic combining, the findings move from what happened, to the mechanisms underlying each project, to a contextualised theoretical explanation.
Because this study problematises conventional research approaches, it is able to shed new light on the phenomenon under study: the generative mechanism that explain science-industry knowledge transfer. Methodologically, it offers a critical realist framework for the analysis of different ontological layers, and also a process-tracing approach that looks at analytically investigating empirical evidence. The practical contribution is a robust explanation that recognises the micro-foundations and structural constraints and opportunities in knowledge transfer relationships. The conclusion is that although there is no single ideal type of project, motivations or interactions that makes knowledge transfer successful, the predominant mechanisms tend to be rooted in social interactions and non-pecuniary rewards.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > Norwich Business School
Depositing User: Users 4971 not found.
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2017 10:57
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2017 10:57


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