Year

2004

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Faculty of Commerce

Abstract

The promotional mechanisms employed in University-Research-Industry (URI) relationships have been considered a strategic factor in the development objectives of the industrialized countries. Such promotional mechanisms are based on recognized conceptual frameworks, which have been carefully examined by researchers. However, little work has been done in this field with respect to problems of less industrialized countries especially in small developing countries. The objective of this study was therefore to compare the URI characteristics and promotional mechanisms of developed countries with those in operation in small developing countries like Sri Lanka.

The methodology employed for this study included exploratory survey, follow-up interviews, interviews with decision-makers and case studies while analytical tools in the grounded theory approach were used to deal with qualitative data.

The URI relationships which are used as instruments to generate economic benefits, show wide discrepancies in performance among different countries. The promotional mechanisms, widely prevalent in industrialized countries, emphasized the importance of framework conditions. The characteristic features of the URI relationships in developed countries are better described in the international literature in terms of models, concepts and systems such as National System of Innovation. An analysis of literature shows that less industrialized countries need to have a better understanding of issues related to the operation of those relationships that are less rigorously influenced by theories and concepts developed in industrialized countries.

The study revealed that the relationships in Sri Lanka are based on the lower end of the spectrum, characterized by short-term orientation that include education and training, and service-based relationships. Lack of structural mechanisms, financial constraints, regulatory rigidity, inadequacy of laboratory facilities and absence of inter-organizational communication seems to be the major features that curtail relationships. It was observed that process related constraints and weaknesses are widespread in all three types of organizations, in addition to the weaknesses related to the framework. Accordingly, three sets of issues based on internal and external factors for a particular type of organization were developed which could be widely used as check list of issues for any developing country. This checklist was tested with new forms of organizations which have evolved to overcome such weaknesses, by adopting the responsive-adaptive approach. The new forms of organizations show features such as heterogeneity, organizational diversity and trans-disciplinarity as well as internal transformation, influence of one type of organization upon another, creation of new organizations and networks. These features are more prevalent in organizations in developed countries.

The findings lead to conclusion that the URI relationships in developing countries show in a broad context similarities to those of developed countries but at the same time differ in nature. The concepts and models used in developed countries to explain the URI relationships can also be used to explain those in developing countries. The importance in understanding micro level conditions and taking remedial measures to overcome negative impact is imperative. Finally, the public policy interventions that are necessary to promote URI relationships, while eliminating weaknesses in the framework and micro-environment are proposed in this study.

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