Doctoral defence: Sigrid Rajalo “University-industry collaboration: interaction structure and preconditions”

On 15 May at 10:00 Sigrid Rajalo will defend her doctoral thesis University-industry collaboration: interaction structure and preconditions” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Economics).

Professor Maaja Vadi, University of Tartu

Professor Rūta Kazlauskaitė, ISM University of Management and Economics (Lithuania)

Professor Rainer Kattel, University College London (Great Britain)

“We, Europeans are excellent in making science with money. But we are not so good at making money out of science,” has said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

The difficulty in generating outputs for innovation and economic growth from high-level science has been referred to as the “European paradox” since the 1990s. This problem is not unique to Europe, all countries that value innovation face challenges in managing the transfer of scientific and technological knowledge into commercial products and services. Therefore, collaboration between universities and companies has provided innovation scholars with rich research material for several decades.

This thesis contributes to the literature on university-industry collaboration by opening up mechanisms that describe the prerequisites for potentially successful collaboration and proposing a new empirically tested conceptual model for studying the interaction between academic researchers and entrepreneurs.

The work is based on three studies, with each subsequent study building on the results of the previous one. The object of the study is the interaction between collaborating university researcher and entrepreneur. To analyse this, the interaction model developed by the recognized semiotician Jüri Lotman was borrowed and supplemented with the important prerequisites for collaboration: motivation and absorptive capacity concepts for innovation. As a result of the study, the central concept of the work emerged - (a)symmetry. To ensure a potentially smooth collaboration, it is necessary for the internal motivation and absorptive capacity of the partners to be symmetrical. The symmetry of collaboration expectations between partners set a strong foundation for potentially smooth collaboration.

In cases where the entrepreneurial partner's absorptive capacity for innovation is lower, or where there is asymmetry in collaboration expectations, researchers are able to provide a compensatory mechanism if they activated the resources in their possession. In collaboration with companies, researchers act as gatekeepers to facilitate knowledge transfer. In addition, contributing to societal well-being is a societal expectation that is built into the public image of academic researchers, and in collaboration with companies, they can choose prosocial motivation, focusing on the partner rather than themselves when motivating themselves.

Defence can be also followed in Teams:


Come to listen to short lectures by doctoral students and choose your favourite!


Research Seminar "Firm resources and response to a negative export shock: 2014 Russian embargo on the Western food exporters" (Mathias Juust, Urmas Varblane)

Alo Lilles will defend his doctoral thesis “The relationship between university-industry cooperation and regional capabilities in Europe“

On 25 September at 12:00 Alo Lilles will defend his doctoral thesis „The relationship between university-industry cooperation and regional capabilities in Europe“