The role of universities in local development

Bruno Dallago


The paper deals with the role that universities can have in promoting innovation in general and at local and regional level in particular. In doing this, the nature of universities and the quality of their relations to industry and governments is of paramount importance. During the last three decades university-industry relationships and the supportive role of governments moved from more general, upstream approaches in line with the traditional public role of universities to more specific, downstream focused approaches. The latter approaches lead to universities playing directly an economically useful role. This move is complementary to the move in the dominant relationship between universities and industry from large transnational companies and few large and prestigious universities to mostly small and medium size enterprises and regional universities. Universities contribution to local development is thus increasingly important, although not without dangers for the integrity of universities. Yet it turns out that producing knowledge is not enough and also the absorptive capacity of the local context and its actors is necessary. The concept of learning regions is aimed to stress this relationship and is therefore particularly useful and productive to analyze and understand  the role of universities in innovation.


Local development, Universities, Knowledge, Innovation, Governments, Europe, United States, Learning organizations

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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X