In the contemporary global environment, borders between the public and private sector, academia and industry are fastly disappearing, giving way to a system of overlapping interaction and collaboration. Resultantly, new organizational structures and cultures are emerging in which industry; government and academia tend to integrate their mutual interests and align their goals while maintaining their identity and carrying out their independent functions.
A considerable body of knowledge, featuring preponderancy of university-industry collaboration for technological advancement, economic growth and social uplift of the countries emerged very recently. Under this arrangement, each entity is assuming a crosscutting approach and performing overlapping functions.
This blog post presents an overview of the various models aimed at collaboration management, integration of academic community and building research partnership among the university, industry and government. For connecting all the three units effectively and efficiently, Henry Etzkowitz, a renowned US Professor and an expert in the field has delineated a mechanism which is regarded as the Triple Helix model of collaboration and university-industry linkages. The aim is to sensitize the policymakers to pursue the right mix of development models.
The Triple Helix model
The Triple Helix is an innovation model where university, industry and government join hands and interact closely as partners where each partner assume some of the capabilities of the other, even though each partner maintains its distinct identity. The Triple Helix model of university-industry-government relation is aimed at creating a more robust innovation system.
This model suggests that the interaction among university+industry+government offers a fertile ground for innovation in the knowledge-based economy. Under this model, the industry operates as the locus of production, university as a source of knowledge and the government as a facilitator for contractual relations between the two partners.
The Triple Helix model cultivates the benefits of association by means of institutionalization of relations among the three major stakeholders. The model maintains that communication and negotiation among these partners stimulate the process with each one assuming the role of the other with hybrid organizations emerging at the interface. The model of university-industry-government relations passed through an evolutionary process.
Evolution of the Triple Helix model
The Triple Helix model of university-industry-government relations passed through its evolutionary process. Etzkowitz (2003) in his seminal work expounded the course of this progression abridged here as under.
The first leg of the Triple Helix model is regarded as the Triple Helix-I. Under this arrangement, the state government embraces academia and industry and regulate the relationship between the other two entities. The pattern of this relationship is given in the following Figure. 1. The former Soviet Union had having this type of university-industry-government relations. Triple Helix-I is largely viewed as a failed developmental model, with too little room for ‘bottom-up’ initiatives, and where ideas creation and innovation were discouraged rather than encouraged.
Figure 1. The Triple Helix-I model of university-industry–government relations.
2. Triple Helix-II
The second stage of the model is regarded as Triple Helix-III. It consists of separate institutional spheres with strong boundaries dividing them, having a highly restricted and controlled blend of relations among the spheres, as in the case of the US government–university-industry relationship. The pattern of this relationship is given in the following Figure. 2. This kind of arrangement leads to a laissez-faire policy, nowadays advocated as a remedy to reduce the excessive role of the Government as prevailed in the Triple Helix-I.
Figure. 2. The Triple Helix-II model of university-industry–government relation.
3. Triple Helix-III
The third edition of the university-industry–government relation is the Triple Helix-III. This model is having overlapping institutional spheres, with each taking the role of the other and with a new blend of organizational structure emerging as a result of the interaction as shown in the Figure. 3. In one form or another, most countries and regions are presently trying to embrace some form of Triple Helix -III. The common objective is to realize the potential of tri-lateral relations among firms, government facilities and academic researchers for knowledge-based economic development.
Figure. 3. The Triple Helix-III model of university-industry–government relation.
The Triple Helix-III model is characterized by a newfangled institutional arrangement for ramping up relation among the three key players which calls for a strong and sturdy role of the government, to fill the vacuum between the university and industry. The prime objective of this model is to realize the potential of tri-lateral relation among the industries, government and academia for knowledge-based economic development. However, this mechanism has its own limitations in the context of developing countries which needs further investigation which will be addressed in the next blog post.
University-industry collaboration in developing economies cannot be expected to work in the same way as in the developed economies. Neither can universities be expected to supply knowledge that is new to their partners, nor can companies be expected to be willing to pay to the universities for the service. Instead, the university-industry alliance can be an effective tool to stimulate and foster the development of technological capabilities and high-level learning on both sides. This process, however, may require government intervention to allow the university-industry cooperation to flourish.