Triple Helix in practice: the key role of boundary spanners

Triple Helix in practice: the key role of boundary spanners
Document type
Lundberg, Heléne
Date of publication
1 April 2013
European Journal of Innovation Management. Vol. 16; Number 2
Trends: economic, social and technology trends affecting business
Business and management
Material type

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to generate additional insight into how the Triple Helix approach can be practiced in a regional context. Design/methodology/approach - This paper describes an attempt to develop innovation in a Swedish region, using the Triple Helix approach. The case study is based on a variety of data sources, including a number of semi-structured interviews. Findings - In implementing the Triple Helix approach, a key role was that of boundary spanners who scanned and pooled ideas for, and interest in, specific projects, building relevant networks and bridging the various involved cultures by semantically translating domain-specific knowledge. The case also illustrates institutional entrepreneurship as the actors changed the system in which they acted. Research limitations/implications - The data come from one country and one region only. The use of other data and other research methods would shed more light on the studied issues. Practical implications - The driving and integrating role of boundary spanners in the case highlights the importance of this role in Triple Helix approaches. Originality/value - The Triple Helix approach does not offer detailed advice on how to support development and innovation. This study fills a gap by analyzing how theory can be transformed into practice.

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