Value creation in University-industry relationships
: a view on stakeholder and relationship value from the perspective of academics in England

  • Thorsten Kliewe

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In today’s knowledge economy hardly any organisation can address its dynamic nature and competitive advantage as a single organisations. More than ever, organisational survival and growth depends on continuous learning and cooperation. This research examines value creation in relationships between higher education institutions and private business organisations. Integrating literature streams on relation-ship marketing, stakeholder theory and university-industry relationships, the re-search aims to identify key drivers of stakeholder value creation, to better under-stand the interrelationships between the stakeholder values generated and determine which stakeholder values driver relationship outcomes. Overall, this research integrates the stakeholder and relationship perspective (multi-level research) and intents to contribute to further opening up the “black box” of value creation in university-industry relationships by putting stakeholder and relationship value at the centre of the study.

Based on a literature review and the integration of the three main literature streams, a conceptual model was developed, forming the basis for an exploratory pre-study aiming to develop a more in-depth understanding of the phenomena. Con-ducting interviews among academics and technology transfer officers, the model was refined before the main, explanatory research step, implemented through a web-based questionnaire among England-based academics, was carried out to test the conceptual model.

The model is comprised with three main elements. First, relationship characteristics (common understanding of expectations, commonness of expectations and commitment) drive the value creation for different stakeholders. Second, the value developed for six main stakeholders (the surveyed academic, the academic team, the university, the business partners, students, and society) impacts the academic’s perception of the overall relationship value. Lastly, the overall relationship value, as perceived by the academic positively affects further relationship outcomes (relationship satisfaction, word-of-mouth, intention to renew the relationship, intention to expand UIR activities beyond the current relationship(s)). Using structural equation modelling, the model was analysed and refined based on 903 responses of a self-administered questionnaire.

The results show that commitment as well as the common understanding as well as the commonness of expectations are key elements driving stakeholder value creation, consistent with literature. With respect to the interrelationships between the realised and expected values generated for different stakeholders, the university emerged as a central actor in the relationship, positively impacting all other stake-holder values. In addition, all other stakeholder values positively society value with the value generated for the surveyed academic and for the business partner also affecting the value generated for the academic team. The results highlight that the academic’s perception of the overall relationship value is significantly and positively influenced by the value generated for the academic itself, the academic team, the university and society. Value generated for students, as a main target group of universities, as well as value generated for the business partners, as the main stake-holder in the relationship, however, were not confirmed to impact the overall relationship value, as perceived by the academic.

In addition to the structural model as presented above, four different models have been developed to examine which stakeholder values drive the four addition relationship outcomes, namely relationship satisfaction, word-of-mouth, intention to renew, and intention to expand. The results show that the outcomes are driven by different sets of stakeholder value with student value driving all outcomes, business value not impacting any outcome and the impact of the others depending on the outcome under study.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
  • Münster University of Applied Sciences
SupervisorGerry Urwin (Supervisor), Tom Donnelly (Supervisor), Thomas Baaken (Supervisor) & Clive Winters (Supervisor)


  • relationship marketing
  • university-industry collaboration

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