Spatial Proximity as a Determinant of Cooperation between Universities and Services Sector Enterprises – an Empirical Study


  • Marcin Olszewski Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny w Poznaniu, Instytut Gospodarki Międzynarodowej, Katedra Międzynarodowych Stosunków Gospodarczych



geographical proximity, relations, service companies, university-industry cooperation


The problem of factors determining university-industry cooperation is becoming more and more popular. This is due to the fact that, on the one hand, there are high expectations related to the effects of cooperation, e.g. in the form of increased innovation and because, especially in service enterprises, the scope of cooperation is still limited. Spatial proximity is perceived as an important factor in establishing and maintaining cooperation. Due to personal contacts and effective communication based on trust, short spatial distance facilitates the transfer of complex and non-codified academic knowledge. The article aims to identify the role of spatial proximity as a determinant of university-industry cooperation. To achieve this goal, an empirical survey on a sample of 383 randomly selected enterprises was conducted. The results indicate that the relation between spatial proximity and the scale and intensity of cooperation is ambiguous. Enterprises located the closest and the furthest from academic centers cooperate with universities the most frequently. Spatial proximity is also conducive to the intensification of cooperation. The paper broadens the understanding of spatial proximity as the determinant of cooperation, by including in the analysis not only the direct influence of distance on cooperation but also by identifying spatial differentiation of channels, motives, and effects of entrepreneurs’ involvement in cooperation with universities.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Marcin Olszewski, Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny w Poznaniu, Instytut Gospodarki Międzynarodowej, Katedra Międzynarodowych Stosunków Gospodarczych

Marcin Olszewski, PhD, Poznań University of Economics and Business, Institute of International Business and Economics, Department of International Economics. PhD is an assistant professor in the Department of International Economics at the Poznań University of Economics and Business, Poland. He received his PhD in 2011 with a thesis on knowledge management in hospitality industry. His areas of research include university-industry collaboration, knowledge management, tourism industry competitiveness, economics of tourism enterprise. He has participated in several research projects on tourism and hospitality industry (including those financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the National Science Center). He is an author or co-author of more than 50 papers (chapters in monographs, articles in journals and conference papers).


Alejziak, W., Liszewski, S., (2016). Rola czasopism naukowych w transferze wiedzy w turystyce, Folia Turistica, 41, 81–135.

Amin, A., Cohendet, P. (2004). Architectures of Knowledge: Firms, Capabilities and Communities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Anatan, L. (2013). A Proposed Framework of University to Industry Knowledge Transfer. Review of Integrative Business and Economics, 2(2), 304–325.

Ankrah, S., AL-Tabbaa, O. (2015). Universities-industry collaboration: A systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 31(3), 387–408. doi: 10.1016/j.scaman.2015.02.003

Arundel, A., Geuna, A. (2004). Proximity and the use of public science by innovative European firms. Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 13, 559–580. doi:10.1080/1043859092000234311

Arvanitis, S., Kubli, U., Woerter, M. (2008). University-industry knowledge and technology transfer in Switzerland: What university scientists think about co-operation with private enterprises. Research Policy, 37(10), 1865–1883. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2008.07.005

Balconi, M., Laboranti, A. (2006). University–industry interactions in applied research: The case of microelectronics. Research Policy, 35(10), 1616–1630. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2006.09.018

Barrio-Castro, T. Del, García-Quevedo, J. (2005). Effects of university research on the geography of innovation. Regional Studies, 39(9), 1217–1229. doi: 10.1080/00343400500389992

Boschma, R. (2005). Proximity and Innovation: A Critical Assessment. Regional Studies, 39(1), 61–74. doi: 10.1080/0034340052000320887

Boschma, R., Iammarino, S. (2009). Related Variety, Trade Linkages, and Regional Growth in Italy. Economic Geography, 85(3), 289–311. doi: 10.1111/j.1944-8287.2009.01034.x

Crescenzi, R., Filippetti, A., Iammarino, S. (2017). Academic inventors: collaboration and proximity with industry. Journal of Technology Transfer, 42(4), 730–762. doi: 10.1007/s10961016-9550-z

D’Este, P., Guy, F., Iammarino, S. (2012). Shaping the formation of university–industry research

collaborations: What type of proximity does really matter? Journal of Economic Geography, 13(4), 537–558. doi: 10.1093/jeg/lbs010

D’Este, P., Iammarino, S. (2010). The spatial profile of university–business research partnerships. Papers in Regional Science, 89(2), 335–350. doi: 10.1111/j.1435-5957.2010.00292.x

D’Este, P., Patel, P. (2007). University—industry linkages in the UK: What are the factors underlying the variety of interactions with industry? Research Policy, 36, 1295–1313. doi:10.1016/j.respol.2007.05.002

D’Este, P., Perkmann, M. (2011). Why do academics engage with industry? The entrepreneurial university and individual motivations. Journal of Technology Transfer, 36(3), 316–339. doi:10.1007/s10961-010-9153-z

Drejer, I., Lund Vinding, A. (2007). Searching Near and Far: Determinants of Innovative Firms’ Propensity to Collaborate Across Geographical Distance. Industry and Innovation, 14(3), 259-275. doi: 10.1080/13662710701369205

Filippetti, A., Savona, M. (2017). University–industry linkages and academic engagements: individual behaviours and firms’ barriers. Introduction to the special section. Journal of Technology Transfer, 42(4), 719–729. doi: 10.1007/s10961-017-9576-x

Frechtling, D.C. (2004). Assessment of tourism/hospitality journals’ role in knowledge transfer: An exploratory study. Journal of Travel Research, 43(2), 83–87. doi:10.1080/02508281.2004.11081434

Giunta, A., Pericoli, F.M., Pierucci, E. (2014). University–industry collaboration in the biopharmaceuticals: The Italian case. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 41(4), 818–840. doi: 10.1007/s10961-015-9402-2

Hamet, J., Michel, S. (2018). Rigor, relevance, and the knowledge “market”. European Business Review, 30(2), 183–201. doi: 10.1108/EBR-01-2017-0025

Hewitt-Dundas, N. (2013). The role of proximity in university-business cooperation for innovation. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 38(2), 93–115. doi: 10.1007/s10961-011-9229-4

Higuchi, Y., Yamanaka, Y. (2017). Knowledge sharing between academic researchers and tourism practitioners: a Japanese study of the practical value of embeddedness, trust and co-creation. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 25(10), 1456–1473. doi: 10.1080/09669582.2017.1288733

Hoarau, H., Kline, C. (2014). Science and industry: Sharing knowledge for innovation. Annals of Tourism Research, 46, 44–61. doi: 10.1016/j.annals.2014.01.005

Huggins, R., Johnston, A., Steffenson, R. (2008). Universities, Knowledge Networks and Regional Policy. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 2(1), 321–340.

Jaffe, A. B. (1989). Real effects of academic research. The American Economic Review, 79(5), 957–959.

Jaffe, A. B., Trajtenberg, M., Henderson, R. (1993). Geographic localization of knowledge spilloves as evidenced by patent citations. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 108(3), 577–598. doi:10.2307/2118401

Levy, R., Roux, P., Wolff, S. (2009). An analysis of science–industry collaborative patterns in a large European University. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 34(1), 1–23. doi: 10.1007/s10961-007-9044-0

Mansfield, E., Lee, J.-Y. (1996). The Modern University: Contributor to Industrial Innovation and Recipient of Industrial R&D Support. Research Policy, 25(7), 1047–1058. doi: 10.1016/S0048-7333(96)00893-1

Mattes, J. (2012). Dimensions of Proximity and Knowledge Bases: Innovation between Spatial and Non-spatial Factors. Regional Studies, 46(8), 1085–1099. doi:10.1080/00343404.2011.552493

Muscio, A., Nardone, G. (2012). The determinants of university-industry collaboration in food science in Italy. Food Policy, 37(6), 710–718. doi: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2012.07.003

Olechnicka, A. (2012). Potencjał nauki a innowacyjność regionów. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar.

Olszewski, M. (2018). Potencjał transferu wiedzy z uczelni wyższych do gospodarki turystycznej w Polsce – ocena na podstawie projektów badawczych finansowanych przez Narodowe Centrum Nauki. Turyzm/Tourism, 28(2), 61–66. doi: 10.18778/0867-5856.28.2.07

Olszewski, M., Walas, B. (2016), Transfer wiedzy z uczelni do przedsiębiorstw turystycznych – identyfikacja barier i możliwości ich niwelowania. Folia Turistica, 41, 45–63.

Perkmann, M., King, Z., Pavelin, S. (2011). Engaging excellence? Effects of faculty quality on university engagement with industry. Research Policy, 40(4), 539–552. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2011.01.007

Qiu, S., Liu, X., Gao, T. (2017). Do emerging countries prefer local knowledge or distant knowledge? Spillover effect of university collaborations on local firms. Research Policy, 46(7), 1299–1311. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2017.06.001

Rossi, F. (2017). The drivers of efficient knowledge transfer performance: evidence from British universities. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 42(3), 729–755. doi: 10.1093/cje/bex054

Ruhanen, L., Cooper, C. (2004). Applying a Knowledge Management Framework to Tourism Research, Tourism Recreation Research, 29(1), 83–87. doi: 10.1080/02508281.2004.11081434

Segarra-Blasco, A., Arauzo-Carod, J., (2008). Sources of innovation and industry–university interaction: Evidence from Spanish firms. Research Policy, 37(8), 1283–1295. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2008.05.003

Slavtchev, V. (2013). Proximity and the Transfer of Academic Knowledge: Evidence from the Spatial Pattern of Industry Collaborations of East German Professors. Regional Studies, 47(5), 686–702. doi:10.1080/00343404.2010.487058

Steinmo, M., Rasmussen, E. (2016). How firms collaborate with public research organizations: The evolution of proximity dimensions in successful innovation projects. Journal of Business Research, 69(3), 1250–1259. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2015.09.006

Storper, M., Venables, A.J. (2004). Buzz: Face-to-face contact and the urban economy. Journal of Economic Geography, 4, 351–370. doi: 10.1093/jnlecg/lbh027

Tang, Y., Motohashi, K., Hu, X., Montoro, A. (2019). Performance of Guangdong manufacturing firms: the roles of regional proximity and research quality of universities. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 45, 1–41. doi: 10.1007/s10961-019-09715-2

Thomas, R., Ormerod, N. (2017). The (almost) imperceptible impact of tourism research on policy and practice. Tourism Management, 62, 379–389. doi: 10.1016/j.tourman.2017.02.009

Torre, A. (2008). On the Role Played by Temporary Geographical Proximity in Knowledge Transmission, Regional Studies, 42(6), 869–889. doi: 10.1080/00343400801922814

Torre, A., Rallet, A. (2010). Proximity and Localization, Regional Studies, 39(1), 47–59. doi:10.1080/0034340052000320842



How to Cite

Olszewski, M. . (2020). Spatial Proximity as a Determinant of Cooperation between Universities and Services Sector Enterprises – an Empirical Study. Studies of the Industrial Geography Commission of the Polish Geographical Society, 34(1), 49–61.