Knowledge flow channels between university and industry: Scientometrics and review study

Document Type : Original Article


1 Assistant Professor, Institute for Science Citation and Observatory of Science and Technology (ISC), Shiraz, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Knowledge and Information Science, Semnan University, Semnan, Iran


Purpose: In order to apply the knowledge produced in universities, the flow of this knowledge outside this environment, especially industrial environments, is an important activity. Lack of familiarity with these channels and their features can cause failure to achieve the ultimate goal of this communication. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to study the knowledge flow channels between university and industry.

Research method: This research is conducted with a scientometric approach and with the technique of co-word analysis as well as narrative review. Using the narrative review approach, the most important international databases were searched, which was used as a theoretical framework. In the second stage of this research, it was carried out with a scientometric approach, and in order to discover the links and the most important words and the scientific map formed from the relationship between words, co-word technique was used. In this way, the query as

(university AND industry AND (channel OR transfer OR spillovers OR flow OR dissemination)) was searched in the Topic field in the Web of Science database as one of the most reliable citation databases. The time span was from 1975 to November 27, 2022, and the search was performed in the Web of Science Core Collection (Science Citation Index Expanded, (SCI-EXPANDED)--1980-present, Social Sciences Citation Index, (SSCI)--1980-present, Arts & Humanities Citation Index, (AHCI)--1975-present, Conference Proceedings Citation Index – Science, (CPCI-S)--1990-present, Conference Proceedings Citation Index – Social Science & Humanities (CPCI-SSH)--1990-present, Book Citation Index – Science (BKCI-S)--2005-present, Book Citation Index – Social Sciences & Humanities (BKCI-SSH)--2005-present, Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI)--2005-present). A total of 5178 documents were retrieved with this search strategy. In order to draw a co-word map, VOSviewer software was used, and in order to have an analyzable map by applying a threshold of at least 50 occurrences, 86 words were entered into the stage of analyzing and drawing a co-occurrence map.

Results: Examining knowledge flow channels between university and industry showed that these channels may be formal, informal or mixed. Also, the flow of knowledge between the industry and the university can be purposeful or untargeted knowledge transfer. This knowledge can be explicit or tacit. On the other hand, in knowledge transfer channels, issues such as commercialization or cost benefit and financial return have also been considered. Also, these channels and knowledge transfer between university and industry are considered as a kind of social capital. Examining the relationship between industry and university from scientometric aspects and based on the co-occurrence map of words showed that topics such as the performance and impact of cooperation, knowledge transfer, triple helix, industry, technology transfer, knowledge, entrepreneurship and research and development are the most important extracted concepts. The scientific map and the formed clusters show the importance of the knowledge flow channels of industry and university from the researchers, and in the meantime, the effect of cooperation in knowledge transfer is important. In total, four topic clusters have been formed in the co-word map.

Discussion and conclusion: The channels between university and industry have been of interest in various researches, and the formation of thematic clusters is also an indication of this importance. The diversity among the channels shows that a comprehensive examination of the knowledge flow channel between the university and the industry requires the use of many indicators.


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