Contradiction, convergence and the knowledge economy: the confluence of academic and commercial biotechnology
Efforts to understand the structure of the emerging knowledge economy have paid particular attention to the shifting boundary between academic and commercial (for-profit) research, especially in life sciences. Yet, empirical studies have tended to adopt a segmented approach, focusing on either industry or the academy, thus obscuring the increasingly interwoven nature of these two domains. In this paper, we explore the changing organizational logics that govern both academic and corporate science, using interview data gathered from two important clusters of the biotechnology industry: Route 128 in Massachusetts and the San Francisco Bay area. These data, while provisional, lead us to suggest that cultural traffic between university and commercial science has increased, blurring the boundary between them and generating a new and often contradictory knowledge regime, the product of a growing confluence of organizational logics that had previously been distinct. The emergence of this regime, which conforms to Stark's (2001) notion of ‘heterarchy’, holds important implications for prevailing theories of university–industry relations and of organizational change as well.