The formation and growth of Google: A firm-level triple helix perspective
Journal article, 2013
The Triple Helix model of innovation systems is widely diffused. The fundamental idea of the model is that ‘university’ can play an enhanced role in innovation in knowledge-based societies and that the three helices – ‘university’, ‘industry’ and ‘government’ – interact in order to produce innovation and therefore regional and national economic growth. This is, however, only one model among several different systemic approaches for explaining regional differences in innovativeness. While the triple helix model emphasizes the role of the university for regional innovativeness, the other systemic approaches call attention to either industry or government as having the lead role in innovation. Further, the triple helix model is developed and primarily explored from a macro-level perspective and not from a firm-level perspective. Finally, while the theoretical value of triple helix interactions are reasonably confirmed, there are still gaps in the triple helix concept, and the practical value is only just beginning to realize its potential. From a firm-level perspective, the purpose of this article is therefore to test the applicability and practical value of the triple helix model when exploring the formation and growth of firms using the case of Google Inc. Useful when exploring a firm’s formation and growth, the triple helix model forces the exploration to start even before the entrepreneur enters the scene, which provides a more holistic picture of firm formation. The three helices were all found to play important but changing roles in the different phases of firm formation and growth. The Google case contributes further understanding of the nature and historical evolution of interactions between the three helices, thereby filling some gaps in the triple helix concept. The Google case also identifies a number of mechanisms for interaction and the important role of the bridging organizations that connect the helices and contribute to the development of interactions. Finally, the concept of ‘spaces’ proved relevant and useful, although in the perspective of a firm, the concept has a broader meaning and exists on different levels.
Triple Helix model