R&D collaborations between industry, government, civil society, and research (also known as ‘quadruple helix collaborations’ (QHCs)) have recently gained attention from R&D theorists and practitioners. In aiming to come to grips with their complexity, past models have generally taken a stakeholder-analytical approach based on stakeholder types. Yet stakeholder types are difficult to operationalise. We therefore argue that a processual model is more suited for studying the interaction in QHCs because it eschews matters of titles and identities. We develop such a model in which the QHC is represented as a process of generating four types of value: research value, market value, political value, and societal value. We then apply this processual model in analysing real-life cases of friction in QHCs. Friction is seen, not as an interpersonal clash, but as a discrepancy between two or more value-creation processes that compete for limited resources (some over-performing while others under-performing).