Industry–University Collaborations in Emerging Economies: A Legitimacy Perspective

Abiodun Samuel Adegbile, David Sarpong, Dongmei Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The need for universities to commercialize academic knowledge, in addition to their two traditional core missions of research and teaching, has made industry–university collaborations (IUCs) more relevant. Although research on IUCs has produced a significant body of knowledge explaining different factors which enable or inhibit the success of IUCs, the nature of IUCs in emerging economies remains poorly understood. The primary purpose of this article is to extend our cumulative understanding of IUCs and of how universities in emerging economies can successfully transition to become entrepreneurial universities. We drew upon insights from two streams of literature—legitimacy and IUCs—to develop an informed understanding of the phenomenon of IUCs and entrepreneurial university emergence in developing economies of Africa. We apply to IUCs and entrepreneurial university emergence the four typologies of the moral legitimacy perspective—personal, consequential, structural, and procedural. We propose how they can yield insights into the antecedents for successful IUCs in emerging African economies, as well as the processes that lead to the emergence of legitimate entrepreneurial universities. We highlight the paper's contributions to theory and practice and suggest that, just as research on IUCs benefits from an organizational legitimacy perspective, organizational legitimacy is also informed by research into IUCs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2381 - 2393
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number7
Early online date2 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • Africa
  • emerging economies
  • entrepreneurial universities
  • industry-university collaborations
  • legitimacy


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