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