University-industry Collaborations – What Are Potential Conflicts and How to Mitigate Them? A Study on the Danish Pharmaceutical Industry

Kristina Homann & Fabian Steinhart

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this master thesis is to find answers for two underlying research questions, namely the conflicts companies experience when engaging in University-Industry collaborations, hereafter referred to as U-I collaborations, and the levers firms can pull to increase the attractiveness of U-I collaborations.
To provide the theoretical basis for the answering of the research questions, the formation process, different types, motivations as well as outcomes for U-I collaborations from a firm’s perspective are considered. Following this, a selection of theoretical internal and external conflicts and corresponding levers is provided.
Taking a more practical approach, the above mentioned theoretical basis is analyzed and discussed in the remaining part of this master thesis, using a deductive research approach. Based on a preparatory scoping interview process, three Danish pharmaceutical companies, namely Novo Nordisk, Lundbeck and LEO Pharma, have been selected for a semi-structured qualitative interview process. Thereby, the conflicts the companies are facing, namely the difficult interactions with the legal departments of the universities and the firm internal dissemination of the knowledge gathered during the U-I collaboration, are found as the main conflicts from the companies’ perspective resulting in a need to consider the implementation of counteracting levers. This master thesis presents an integrative collaboration approach, the internal use of Innovation Technologies and provision of networking seminars and workshops for corporate scientists as appropriate levers to deal with such conflicts during U-I collaborations. Furthermore, and as a more holistic lever, the engagement in co-location activities is presented.
The master thesis concludes with a discussion of the findings, the outline of the limitations of the research process, managerial implications and recommendations for future research.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages114
SupervisorsChristoph Grimpe