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A national systems view of university entrepreneurialism: Inferences from comparison of the German and US experience

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  • Lehrer, Mark
  • Nell, Phillip
  • Gärber, Lisa
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    Abstract

    Examining parallels in the long-term evolution of the German and US university systems, this paper formulates hypotheses about the rise and decline of university entrepreneurialism at the national level. Three macro-level antecedents of university entrepreneurialism are identified: (1) decentralized competition; (2) latitude in mission and revenue mix; (3) a nationwide, diversified bidding system for the funding of large-scale university-based research. Of these, the third is real lynchpin of university entrepreneurialism. Arguing for a multidimensional understanding of such entrepreneurialism (i.e. beyond just the commercialization of scientific discoveries), the paper identifies three developments within universities emanating from a favorable national environment: (1) organizational innovations for achieving economies of scope; (2) an institutionalized capacity for strategic selection of research foci; and (3) a capacity to contribute to the development of new industries. The analysis suggests that as national university systems grow and run into cost containment problems, political pressures for reform increase, leading to system homogenization; system homogenization weakens the contextual sources of entrepreneurialism and triggers a process of decline.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (March)
    Pages: 268-280

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:38:y:2009:i:2:p:268-280

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/respol

    Related research

    Keywords: Entrepreneurial university German university system US university system National systems of innovation R&D reform;

    References

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    1. Owen-Smith, Jason & Powell, Walter W., 2003. "The expanding role of university patenting in the life sciences: assessing the importance of experience and connectivity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1695-1711, October.
    2. Joanna Poyago-Theotoky & John Beath & Donald S. Siegel, 2002. "Universities and Fundamental Research: Reflections on the Growth of University-Industry Partnership," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 200201, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews.
    3. C. Freeman, 2004. "Technological infrastructure and international competitiveness," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(3), pages 541-569, June.
    4. Achilladelis, Basil & Antonakis, Nicholas, 2001. "The dynamics of technological innovation: the case of the pharmaceutical industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 535-588, April.
    5. Richard R. Nelson, 2003. "The Market Economy, and the Scientific Commons," LEM Papers Series 2003/24, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    6. Lockett, Andy & Siegel, Donald & Wright, Mike & Ensley, Michael D., 2005. "The creation of spin-off firms at public research institutions: Managerial and policy implications," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 981-993, September.
    7. Zucker, Lynne G & Darby, Michael R & Brewer, Marilynn B, 1998. "Intellectual Human Capital and the Birth of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 290-306, March.
    8. Mark Lehrer, 2007. "Organizing knowledge spillovers when basic and applied research are interdependent: German biotechnology policy in historical perspective," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 277-296, June.
    9. Di Gregorio, Dante & Shane, Scott, 2003. "Why do some universities generate more start-ups than others?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 209-227, February.
    10. Steven Casper & Hannah Kettler, 2001. "National Institutional Frameworks And The Hybridization Of Entrepreneurial Business Models: The German And Uk Biotechnology Sectors," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1), pages 5-30.
    11. Geuna, Aldo & Nesta, Lionel J.J., 2006. "University patenting and its effects on academic research: The emerging European evidence," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 790-807, July.
    12. Siegel, Donald S. & Waldman, David & Link, Albert, 2003. "Assessing the impact of organizational practices on the relative productivity of university technology transfer offices: an exploratory study," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 27-48, January.
    13. Gulbrandsen, Magnus & Smeby, Jens-Christian, 2005. "Industry funding and university professors' research performance," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 932-950, August.
    14. Dohse, Dirk, 2000. "Technology policy and the regions -- the case of the BioRegio contest," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(9), pages 1111-1133, December.
    15. Steven Casper & Mark Lehrer & David Soskice, 1999. "Can High-technology Industries Prosper in Germany? Institutional Frameworks and the Evolution of the German Software and Biotechnology Industries," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 5-24.
    16. Whitley, Richard, 2007. "Business Systems and Organizational Capabilities: The Institutional Structuring of Competitive Competences," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199205189.
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    Cited by:
    1. Masatoshi Kato & Hiroyuki Odagiri, 2010. "Development of University Life-Science Programs and University-Industry Joint Research in Japan," Discussion Paper Series 67, School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University, revised Dec 2010.
    2. Ming Chu Leung & John A. Mathews, 2011. "Origins and dynamics of university spin-offs: the case of Hong Kong," International Journal of Transitions and Innovation Systems, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(2), pages 175-201.
    3. Haeussler, Carolin & Colyvas, Jeannette A., 2011. "Breaking the Ivory Tower: Academic Entrepreneurship in the Life Sciences in UK and Germany," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 41-54, February.

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