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Technology transfer offices as boundary spanners in the pre-spin-off process: the case of a hybrid model

Huyghe, A., Knockaert, M., Wright, M. & Piva, E. (2014). Technology transfer offices as boundary spanners in the pre-spin-off process: the case of a hybrid model. Small Business Economics, 43(2), pp. 289-307. doi: 10.1007/s11187-013-9537-1


Over the past decades, universities have increasingly become ambidextrous organizations reconciling scientific and commercial missions. In order to manage this ambidexterity, technology transfer offices (TTOs) were established in most universities. This paper studies a specific, often implemented, but rather understudied type of TTO, namely a hybrid TTO model uniting centralized and decentralized levels. Employing a qualitative research design, we examine how and why the two TTO levels engage in diverse boundary spanning activities to help nascent spin-off companies move through the pre-spin-off process. Our research identifies differences in the types of boundary spanning activities that centralized and decentralized TTOs perform and in the parties they engage with. We find geographical, technological and organizational proximity to be important antecedents of the TTOs’ engagement in external and internal boundary spanning activities. These results have important implications for both academics and practitioners interested in university technology transfer through spin-off creation.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: The final publication is available at via
Publisher Keywords: Technology transfer office Boundary spanning Proximity Nascent spin-offs
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of SBE paper revised 12 april.pdf]
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