Alliances with universities - How firms absorb and apply knowledge

Michael D. Santoro, Shanthi Gopalakrishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Expanding on the notion that absorptive capacity is a multidimensional construct, we elaborate on a pivotal component of absorptive capacity, applying external knowledge (AEK), by examining the extent to which certain key internal and external factors are related to AEK. Using survey questionnaire data from senior executives in firms collaborating with university research centres our focus was AEK with respect to advancing new products, new processes, and improvements to existing products and processes. Results show that a more technologically uncertain environment is positively associated with AEK and the firm age is associated with AEK in a curvilinear, inverted U-shape fashion such that as firms mature they apply external knowledge better up to a certain point until diminishing returns come into play. We also found tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge moderate these relationships in different ways. We conclude with implications for future theory development, empirical research, and management practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-199
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Knowledge Management Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


  • Absorptive capacity
  • Industry-university alliances
  • Knowledge application
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Strategic alliances


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