Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the collaboration strategies employed by collaborating small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and university researchers for initiating and optimizing the process and outcome of R&D collaboration. Design/methodology/approach - The paper is based upon a qualitative study of the total population of university departments and SMEs involved in collaborative research projects sponsored by a new governmental programme in Denmark, the aim of which was to build new R&D alliances between industry and universities. Findings - The findings show how partners choose to pursue difference short- or long-term strategies to optimize the process and outcome of university-industry (UI) collaboration. Some collaborations were thus informed by a short-term strategy aimed at achieving immediate R&D results. However, to a high extent, many SME partners relied upon a long-term strategy aiming at developing UI relations beyond the immediate project and practical learning. A variety of shifting strategies shape researchers' decisions during UI collaborations, which thus convey different notions of success. Research limitations/implications - The findings of the present research point to the importance of taking the diverse reasons and micro strategies informing collaborative efforts into account when studying UI collaborations. Practical implications - Different strategies may prove successful in optimizing the outcome of UI collaborations depending upon, e.g. partners' previous collaborative experiences. Policies should incorporate some openness towards the differential premises and reasons for UI collaboration. Originality/value - Relatively little research has addressed the development of UI relationships from the micro-level perspective of the discretionary decisions and strategies of collaborating researchers.
European Journal of Innovation Management, 2009, Vol 12, Issue 2, p. 161-176