Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The role of mid-range universities in knowledge transfer: the case of non-metropolitan regions in Central and Eastern Europe (examples from Hungary and the Czech Republic)

Gál, Zoltán and Ptáček, Pavel (2010): The role of mid-range universities in knowledge transfer: the case of non-metropolitan regions in Central and Eastern Europe (examples from Hungary and the Czech Republic). Forthcoming in: European Planning Studies

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Abstract

The paper focuses on the specific role of mid-range universities in knowledge transfer and explores the knowledge flows from these mid-range universities facing a number of extra constraints in transitional Central Eastern European (CEE) regions. Mid-range universities, very often located outside of the metropolitan regions, represent the keystones of regional innovation systems for the less developed regions where the “density of contacts” is much lower and possible spillovers emerge more sparsely. The first part of the paper focuses on the types of possible linkages between mid-range universities and industry, and limitations of these relations bringing examples from Western Europe where the position of universities in the collaboration with business sector and their role in the innovation system is quite different form their CEE counterparts. It is mainly due to the different development path of innovation systems and development trajectories in post-communist countries described in the paper. Based on case studies bringing examples mainly from the non-metropolitan regions of Hungary and the Czech Republic, where the number of constraints, such as the lack of critical mass in their techno-economic systems, the traditionally weaker role of university based experimental researches, the mismatch between the economic and knowledge sectors, the weak regional innovation systems and less intense university–industry links are the major impediments of knowledge transfer. The paper argues that ambitious university-based developmental models have to be revised in CEE regions and the future role of universities has to be reconsidered as potential engines of local economic development from a more realistic perspective. The paper also argues, that the regional techno-economic system needs to achieve a certain degree of maturity in order to be able to determine the foci of a research and innovation-oriented regional development within the reindustrializing CEE regions and makes policy recommendation for the mid-range universities to take on new role, which means a stronger regional engagement in also medium-tech innovations and in social and organizational innovation.

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