Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Innovation in Cultural Industries: The Role of University Links

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Innovation in Cultural Industries: The Role of University Links

Article excerpt


For more than a decade the contemporary economy has been described as 'knowledgebased', which means that knowledge has been recognized as the driver of productivity and economic growth, leading to a new focus on the role of information, technology and learning in economic performance (OECD 1996). As knowledge creation has an impact on the economy, and innovation is a matter of producing new knowledge or combining existing (and sometimes new) elements of knowledge in new ways (Edquist 2005), one can say that innovation is a driver of economic development. The very first proponent of this idea was Schumpeter who, in the early 1900s, described economic development as a process of qualitative change, driven by innovation, that took place in historical time (from Fagerberg 2005).

The systems of innovation approach claims that firms do not innovate in isolation, but interact with other organizations (Edquist 2005). As universities are important and useful generators of knowledge they become crucial partners in innovation activities (Coenen 2007). According to the framework of constructed regional advantage (Asheim et al. 2006), the public sector (especially universities) should take a more active role in collaborating with industry. Traditionally associated with basic research, education and peer-review, universities have been asked for social and economical accountability (Steen & Enders 2008).

These changes have created new opportunities and challenges for academia. The new concepts of 'academic entrepreneurship' (Klofsten & Jones-Evans 2000) and 'entrepreneurial university' (Vickers et al. 2001) have been introduced in the academic analysis of university-industry relations. Four major research streams have emerged in this area of study: entrepreneurial research university, productivity of technology transfer office, new firm creation and environmental context including network of innovation (Rothaermel et al. 2007). A taxonomy of the literature by Rothaermal et al. (2007) reveals that in most of the articles the unit of analysis is the university. The literature analyzing how this collaboration affects firms concentrates mostly on high-tech sectors such as ICT and biotechnology. In many cases the companies are influenced through technology transfer - licensing and spin-offactivities. The research on innovation networks highlights the benefits of such networks to technology-based firms (Rothaermel et al. 2007). Additionally, the majority of studies concentrate either on large enterprises with developed R&D activities (e.g., Fabrizio 2006) or spin-offs from the university (Grandi & Grimaldi 2003; Pérez & Sánchez 2003; Johansson et al. 2005). Discussions on the impact of academia-industry relations on other types of firms are lacking. The aim of this study is to analyze how (if at all) relations with academia influence the innovation performance of new media firms. Such an analysis could at least partly fill the current gap in the literature on academiaindustry relations.

New media is a creative/artistic sector that is continuously challenged by the emergence of new technologies, but it is an artistic nature that defines its specificity. According to Asheim et al. (2007), there are three types of knowledge bases: analytical (scientific), synthetic (engineering) and symbolic (artistic). Knowledge creation and mode of innovation of firms are strongly shaped by their specific knowledge base. Firms operating in the new media sector are usually classified as the ones with a dominating symbolic knowledge base (Martin & Moodysson 2011). Even if some firms have analytical or synthetic competences in-house, it is the symbolic ones that define their competitiveness in the market.

A common theoretical assumption is that relations with universities are of minor importance for art industries (Asheim et al. 2007; Miles & Green 2008; Davis et al. 2009). …

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