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Exploring the theory and practice of knowledge exchange: intention, context and characteristics

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Jeremy Davenport
Publication date2018
Number of pages410
Awarding Institution
Thesis sponsors
  • AHRC
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The concept of Knowledge Exchange (KE), increasingly adopted by policy makers and practitioners, is used to describe policy, investment and related forms of collaboration between universities and public, private and third sector partners. The concept is inclusive of formal and informal collaborations that extend beyond universities’ traditional roles as centres of research and teaching excellence with a recognised potential to generate significant social and economic benefits. This enquiry sets out to clarify the concept of KE as a distinct mode of university collaboration and identify important factors that act to shape the effectiveness of KE projects as the basis for exploring how future projects can be supported to maximise effectiveness.

The overall aim is addressed is through a review of relevant literature and a case study analysis incorporating six knowledge exchange projects undertaken within the context of The Creative Exchange, one of four AHRC funded Knowledge Exchange Hubs. Each project focused on addressing opportunities and challenges associated with digital innovation across a variety of social contexts. The study reflects the premise that to design and enable knowledge exchange initiatives effectively, it is necessary to understand the intention, context and characteristics of this mode of collaboration and the factors that shape the delivery of the related projects. Distilled from the case study analysis and elements of the literature review, a typology of three distinct forms of University collaboration is developed (Technology Transfer, Knowledge Transfer and Knowledge Exchange) and an Exploratory Mode of KE identified.

The exploratory mode is situated in the context of a innovation funnel, illustrating how the concept can be integrated in to a wider process of KE project development. Research insights provide a basis for identifying enabling factors that influenced the design and delivery of the selected projects, these insights in turn are used to inform the design of an enabling framework to support future KE projects.