The central research subject of this dissertation is the influence of certain factors on the commercialization of university research. Knowledge and technology have become the most important resources in modern economies in recent decades. This fact is particularly true for innovation-based economies, including countries such as Germany and the US, in which technological knowledge and progress are essential. As a result, universities, as producers of knowledge and technology, play a central role in this new economic system. In order to gain or keep those technological advances, the commercialization of university research is the most important channel of knowledge transfer from the world of academia to practice.
The transfer of university knowledge into practice and thus the commercialization of a scientist’s research takes various forms. Knowledge can be introduced directly into the market via a university spin-off or through other channels, such as consulting, licensing, sales, or even the cooperation between researchers and companies during the creation of knowledge. The basis of this ’new’ model of relationship between business, science and the state is the triple helix model by Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff (2000). In this model, separation between the tasks of the university, the economy and the state become increasingly blurred, and each participant begins to act in the spheres of the other participants. This creates a dense network of interrelations between the participants.
The transfer of knowledge and networks between the economy, universities and the state have already been investigated. However, these analyses were usually related to the technical functions of the transfer of knowledge or to the organizational interdependence of the participants. Of course, these points are important and the findings from these research areas should not be ignored in this dissertation. This dissertation is, however, intended to be focused on a widely neglected research topic at the commercialization of university research. Therefore, the following dissertation will focus on the individual researcher as the central research subject. In particular, the question of what factors are decisive for a researcher to commercialize his or her research is central. Following the homo economicus approach, it typically is assumed that researchers are particularly motivated by extrinsic, mostly monetary, incentives, which is why most incentive systems also focus primarily on such incentives. Certainly, monetary incentives also play a role in the commercialization of research, but other factors also influence researchers. Therefore, the classical view with the premises of the homo economicus approach will be expanded by adding peer effects, personal networks into industry and the orientation of the research to the analyses. Effective incentive systems with the aim of motivating university researchers to commercialize their research also need to consider these factors.