The Role Of Organizational Boundary Spanners In Industry/ University Collaborative Relationships.

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Title: The Role Of Organizational Boundary Spanners In Industry/ University Collaborative Relationships.
Author: Tarant, Stephanie Ann
Advisors: Denis O. Gray, Committee Co-Chair
Mark A. Wilson, Committee Co-Chair
Catherine R. Zimmer, Committee Member
Samuel Bob Pond, III, Committee Member
Abstract: A critical component of the nation's innovation explosion has been collaborative partnerships between industry and universities. More so than relations between multiple industry members (industry-industry) or government agencies (industry-government), industry-university relationships are focused on research and development. The number of industry-university research centers (IUC) in the United States has increased dramatically over the last two decades (National Science Board, 2002). However, organizations vary tremendously in terms of the benefits they report from participation in an IUC (NSF- IUCRC Process/ Outcome Survey Results, 2003). The underlying cause of the variation in benefits is yet unknown (Ailes, Roessner & Feller, 1997). Different roles played by the boundary role incumbents who represent the organization to the center, known as the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB), may affect firm benefits which in turn affect center outcomes. The purpose of the current study is to examine the tasks and characteristics of boundary spanning IAB representatives and their impact on vital outcomes associated with IUC research including R&D, commercialization, and professional networking. The current study utilized a cross sectional survey design and examined (n=220) IAB representatives from 35 national and state level IUCs. Results from OLS and logistic regression analyses suggest that IAB representatives play not one but four distinct roles (representative, internal boundary-spanner, external boundary-spanner, and technology champion). External boundary-spanning was found to be the strongest predictor of increased firm benefits. Guidance for firms seeking to maximize benefits from participation in an IUC, and best practices for personnel selection and training of an IAB representative are discussed.
Date: 2004-11-23
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Psychology

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