Knowledge flows in contemporary economies: expectations and the European Union results

Aleksandra Pleśniarska



Motivation: Access to knowledge and the ability to absorb it are increasingly becoming the decisive factor in the level of development and the pace of economic growth. Knowledge transfer is a complex process that can have both an internal dimension (between entities within a given country) and an international one (between domestic and foreign entities). In this context, knowledge flows in the area of science and innovation deserve special attention.

Aim: The main purpose of the article is to present the multidimensional nature of knowledge flows and to identify the position of the EU in comparison with global competitors in this filed, especially considering the global science and innovation context. What are the channels of knowledge flow? To what extent does the EU participate in the international knowledge flows? What are the EU expectations in this area? This article endeavours to answer the questions above.

Results: The article systematizes information on knowledge flows in economy and supplements it with a comparative analysis, which allows for better understanding of the international position of the European Union in this field. The conclusion states that despite lagging behind the United States, European science is becoming increasingly more open-access oriented and the EU is still among the leaders of international scientific cooperation.


knowledge transfer; international transfer of knowledge; European Union; open science; international scientific cooperation

Full Text:



Brant, J., & Parthasarathy, B. (2015). The dynamics of global technology and knowledge flows. ICC Innovation and Intellectual Property Research Paper, 4.

Cowan, R., & Jonard, N. (2004). Network structure and the diffusion of knowledge. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 28(8). doi:10.1016/j.jedc.2003.04.002.

Crespi, G., Criscuolo, C., Haskel, J., & Slaughter, M. (2008). Productivity growth, knowledge flows, and spillovers. NBER Working Paper, 13959. doi:10.3386/w13959.

EESC. (2009). Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on Cooperation and transfer of knowledge between research organisations, industry and SMEs: an important prerequisite for innovation (own-initiative opinion) (OJ C 218).

European Commission. (2008). Commission Recommendation of 10 April 2008 on the management of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities and code of practice for universities and other public research organisations (OJ L 146).

European Commission. (2012a). Commission Recommendation of 17 July 2012 on access to and preservation of scientific information (OJ L 194).

European Commission. (2012b). Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: towards better access to scientific information: boosting the benefits of public investments in research (COM/2012/401).

European Commission. (2016). Open innovation, open science, open to the world: a vision for Europe. Retrieved 14.02.2020 from

European Commission. (2018a). Europe’s future: open innovation, open science, open to the world: reflections of the Research, Innovation and Science Policy Experts (RISE) High Level Group. Retrieved 14.02.2020 from

European Commission. (2018b). Science, research and innovation performance of the EU: strengthening the foundations for Europe’s future. Retrieved 14.02.2020 from

Fallah, M.H., & Ibrahim, S. (2004). Knowledge spillover and innovation in technological clusters. In Y.A Hosni, R. Smith, T.M. Khalil (Eds.), IAMOT 2004: 13th international conference on management of technology: new directions in technology management: changing collaboration between government, industry and university. Washington: IAMOT.

Giuri, P., Munari, F., Scandura, A., & Toschi, L. (2019). The strategic orientation of universities in knowledge transfer activities. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 138. doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2018.09.030.

Gobble, M.M. (2018). News and analysis of the global innovation scene. Research–Technology Management, 61(6). doi:10.1080/08956308.2018.1516608.

Govind, M., & Küttim, M. (2016). International knowledge transfer from university to industry: a systematic literature review. Research in Economics and Business: Central and Eastern Europe, 8(2).

Guan, J., & Chen, Z. (2012). Patent collaboration and international knowledge flow. Information Processing and Management, 48(1). doi:10.1016/j.ipm.2011.03.001.

Hassan, S.U., & Haddawy, P. (2013). Measuring international knowledge flows and scholarly impact of scientific research. Scientometrics, 94(1). doi:10.1007/s11192-012-0786-6.

Jinji, N., & Zhang, X. (2015). International knowledge flows and productivity: intra- vs. inter-industry spillovers. International Economic Journal, 29(3).


Karlsson, C., & Gråsjö, U. (2014). Knowledge flows, knowledge externalities, and regional economic development. In M. Fischer, & P. Nijkamp (Eds.), Handbook of regional science. Berlin: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-23430-9_25.

Lundvall, B.A. (2004), The economics of knowledge and learning. In J.L. Christensen & B.A. Lundvall (Ed.), Product innovation, interactive learning and economic performance. Burlington: Emerald Group.

Montobbio, F., Primi, A., & Sterzi, V. (2015). IPRS and international knowledge flows: evidence from six large emerging countries. Tijdschrift Voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 106(2). doi:10.1111/tesg.12131.

Morone, P., & Taylor, R. (2010). Knowledge diffusion and innovation: modelling complex entrepreneurial behaviors. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

National Science Board. (2018). Science & engineering indicators 2018. Retrieved 27.03.2019 from

OECD. (2013). Commercialising public research: new trends and strategies. doi:10.1787/9789264193321-en.

OECD. (2017). International bilateral flows of scientific authors, 2006–16: largest bilateral flows, by first and last recorded main affiliation. doi:10.1787/sti_scoreboard-2017-graph108-en.

OECD. (2019). OECD.Stat. Retrieved 26.03.2019 from

Phillips, M., & Knoppers, B.M. (2019). Whose Commons: data protection as a legal limit of open science. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 47(1). doi:10.1177/1073110519840489.

Pleśniarska, A. (2018). The intensity of university-business collaboration in the EU. Acta Universitatis Lodziensis: Folia Oeconomica, 6(339). doi:10.18778/0208-6018.339.09.

Polanyi, M. (1966). The logic of tacit inference. Philosophy, 41(155). doi:10.1017/s0031819100066110.

Schöpfel, J. (2016). Open supply: on the future of document supply in the world of open science. Interlending & Document Supply, 44(4). doi:10.1108/ilds-07-2016-0025.

Trippl, M., Tödtling, F., & Lengauer, L. (2009). Knowledge sourcing beyond buzz and pipelines: evidence from the Vienna software sector. Economic Geography, 85(4). doi:10.1111/j.1944-8287.2009.01047.x.

Wagner, C.S., Park, H.W., & Leydesdorff, L. (2015). The continuing growth of global cooperation networks in research: a conundrum for national governments. PLoS ONE, 10(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.013181.

ISSN 1898-2255 (print)
ISSN 2392-1625 (online)

Partnerzy platformy czasopism