THE UNIVERSITY AS AN AGENT OF KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER: THE CASE OF THE LATVIA UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE
Authors: Ginta Kronberga, Līga Paula, Dina Bite
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There is a discussion within social science literature on theoretical models looking at the relationships between universities and stakeholders in the process of knowledge transfer particularly explaining whether universities are involved in the triple helix relationships (politicians, businesses representatives and university officials) or a quadruple helix system where public constitutes the forth party. Universities have a number of functions which among the other include both creation and obtaining of knowledge and transferring it within wider community, thus promoting socioeconomic development. By studying the case of the Latvia University of Agriculture (hereinafter – LUA), the authors of the paper focus on cooperation networks that are involved in the process of knowledge transfer from the university to regional stakeholders and vice versa. The research methodology is based on the qualitative approach. For identification of cooperation agents, nineteen individual and six group semi-structured interviews were held involving 35 informants. For a deeper analysis of relationships between the LUA and regional stakeholders, policy documents concerning socioeconomic development of Zemgale planning region were analysed.
The research results show that the LUA operates as a unique agent of knowledge transfer in many fields (agriculture, veterinary science, forestry, wood processing, food technology, etc.) at both regional and national levels thus diversity of structural elements in cooperation networks depends on demand and supply of knowledge as well as on involvement of institutions responsible for facilitation of successful knowledge transfer. The authors discuss which of the theoretical cooperation models is more evident in the case of the LUA and conclude that currently the triple helix relationships dominate; however, in some cases particular relationship patterns and activities indicate transformation towards the quadruple helix system.