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When Does University Research Get Commercialized? Creating Ambidexterity in Research Institutions

24 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2008  

Tina Ambos

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Kristiina Mäkelä

Hanken School of Economics

Julian Birkinshaw

London Business School

Pablo d'Este

Cranfield School of Management

Abstract

We examine the tensions that make it difficult for a research-oriented university to achieve commercial outcomes. Building on the organizational ambidexterity literature, we specify the nature of the tensions (between academic and commercially-oriented activities) at both organizational and individual levels of analysis, and how these can be resolved. We develop hypotheses linking specific aspects of the organization and the individual researcher to the likelihood of their research projects generating commercial outcomes, and we test them using a novel dataset of 207 Research Council-funded projects, combining objective data on project outcomes with the perceptions of principal investigators. We show that the tension between academic and commercial demands is more salient at the level of the individual researcher than at the level of the organization. Universities show evidence that they are able to manage the tensions between academic and commercial demands, through for example their creation of dual structures. At the individual level, on the other hand, the tensions are more acute, so that the people who deliver commercial outcomes tend to be rather different to those who are accustomed to producing academic outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Ambos, Tina and Mäkelä, Kristiina and Birkinshaw, Julian and d'Este, Pablo, When Does University Research Get Commercialized? Creating Ambidexterity in Research Institutions. Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 45, Issue 8, pp. 1424-1447, December 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1303774 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2008.00804.x

Tina Ambos (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Kristiina Mäkelä

Hanken School of Economics

PB 287
Vaasa, Vaasa 65101
Finland

Julian Birkinshaw

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

Pablo D'Este

Cranfield School of Management ( email )

United Kingdom

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