The 'third mission' and 'triple helix mission' of universities as evolutionary processes in the development of the network of knowledge production: reflections on SME experiences in Thailand

Karantarat Nakwa, Girma Zawdie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores the 'third mission' and 'triple helix mission' of universities in Thailand. These functions of universities are often conflated, whereas conceptually they represent separate stages in the evolution of the sphere of knowledge production. The ‘third mission’ concept is presented as the antecedent to the 'triple helix mission', and involves relationships between institutional spheres, with the boundaries clearly delineated. In the 'triple helix system', institutional spheres converge and boundaries are blurred. The transition from the 'third mission' to the ‘triple helix system’—and the subsequent emergence of entrepreneurial universities—is expedited by the intervention of intermediary organisations that span boundaries and broker between institutional spheres to promote knowledge exchange. Analysis of experience in Thailand shows that the transition from the third mission' to the 'triple helix system' has been constrained by limited networking experience and weak social capital among the actors, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-629
Number of pages8
JournalScience and Public Policy
Issue number5
Early online date17 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2016


  • triple helix
  • third mission
  • entrepreneurial universities
  • intermediaries
  • small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Thailand
  • institutional spheres
  • knowlwedge exchange
  • networking
  • social capital

Cite this