Working Paper 50
Globalisation, localisation and glocalisation of university-business research cooperation: general patterns and trends in the UK university system
Published May 2019

Working Paper 50, authored by Robert Tijssen, Wouter van de Klippe and Alfredo Yegros, is an exploratory study presenting a new systematic way of looking at ‘university-business interactions’ in the UK university system.

Contemporary university-business research interactions are inevitably affected by processes of localisation and globalisation. Where science itself as well as the business sector demand for advanced scientific knowledge is becoming less dependent on geographical distance, public funding authorities increasingly expect universities to engage and cooperate with firms located in the region. How do these opposing pressures affect general trends in national higher education systems? And which patterns and trends can one discern within individual research-intensive universities?

Addressing the second question, this working paper examines the 48 largest universities, and its analysis unfolds the geographical patterns and annual trends during the years 2008-2017. Its focuses on the universities’ research cooperation interactions, but also incorporate data on cross sectoral mobility of researchers.

The paper collected empirical data from the author affiliate addresses listed on their university-business co-publications (UBCs). The geographical distance between pairs of university-business addresses defines a series of expanding ‘distance zones’ according to where the business sector research partner is located. The zones range from an ultra-short distance (0-49 km from the university’s city) to ultra-long distances (located more than 4,999 km away).

The annual growth trends in UBC quantities reveal a consistent overall trend towards higher levels of globalisation, where partner firms are at least 500 km from the university. Many of firms are located in continental Europe.

Where some universities are significantly globalising their interactions with the business sector, others show an increase of UBCs with local firms, often within a 100 km range. Many are engaging in both processes simultaneously: 23 universities seem to be ‘glocalising’ their research cooperation with the business sector.