The role of spatial and non-spatial forms of proximity in knowledge transfer

The role of spatial and non-spatial forms of proximity in knowledge transfer
Document type
Kuttim, M.
Date of publication
1 July 2016
Management & leadership: including strategy, public sector management, operations and production, People management: all aspects of managing people
Business and management
Material type

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This paper investigates the role that geographic proximity plays in relation to non-spatial proximity in the context of international university-industry knowledge transfer.

The paper contributes to the existing body of knowledge by using proximity dimensions operationalised at aggregate and individual levels to study the university knowledge network. 

The authors suggest that attention should be paid to distinguishing between organisational and individual levels of analysis and their differing results. 

Proximity at organisational level does not necessarily translate into proximity between individuals and vice-versa.


  • The results indicate that there emerge different configurations of proximity nationally and internationally. 
  • In the case of domestic cooperation cognitive (education), organisational, social and institutional (institutional setting) proximity exist simultaneously with geographic proximity.
  • International cooperation is characterised by lack of geographical proximity, but the existence of cognitive and social proximity indicating a substitution.

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