Knowledge transfer in university quadruple helix ecosystems: an absorptive capacity perspective

Kristel Miller, Rodney McAdam, Sandra Moffett, A Alexander, P Puthusserry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Citations (Scopus)


Increased understanding of knowledge transfer (KT) from universities to the wider regional knowledge ecosystem offers opportunities for increased regional innovation and commercialisation. The aim of this article is to improve the understanding of the KT phenomena in an open innovation context where multiple diverse quadruple helix stakeholders are interacting. An absorptive capacity-based conceptual framework is proposed, using a priori constructs which portrays the multidimensional process of KT between universities and its constituent stakeholders in pursuit of open innovation and commercialisation. Given the lack of overarching theory in the field, an exploratory, inductive theory building methodology was adopted using semi-structured interviews, document analysis and longitudinal observation data over a three-year period. The findings identify five factors, namely human centric factors, organisational factors, knowledge characteristics, power relationships and network characteristics, which mediate both the ability of stakeholders to engage in KT and the effectiveness of knowledge acquisition, assimilation, transformation and exploitation. This research has implications for policy makers and practitioners by identifying the need to implement interventions to overcome the barriers to KT effectiveness between regional quadruple helix stakeholders within an open innovation ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-399
JournalR&D Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Mar 2016


  • University technology transfer
  • absorptive capacity
  • triple helix


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