IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The effectiveness of university knowledge spillovers: Performance differences between university spinoffs and corporate spinoffs


  • Wennberg, Karl
  • Wiklund, Johan
  • Wright, Mike


While much prior research has focused upon how the Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) and other contextual characteristics shape the level of university spinoffs (USO), there is little research on entrepreneurial potential among individual academics, and to the best of our knowledge, no comparative studies with other types of spinoffs exist to date. In this paper we focus on an important but neglected aspect of knowledge transfer from academic research involving the indirect flow to entrepreneurship by individuals with a university education background who become involved in new venture creation by means of corporate spinoffs (CSO) after gaining industrial experience, rather than leaving university employment to found a new venture as an academic spinoff. We argue that the commercial knowledge gained by industry experience is potentially more valuable for entrepreneurial performance compared to the academic knowledge gained by additional research experience at a university. This leads us to posit that the average performance of CSOs will be higher than comparable USOs, but the gains from founder's prior experiences will be relatively higher among USOs whose founders lack the corporate context. We investigate these propositions in a comparative study tracking the complete population of USOs and CSOs among the Swedish knowledge-intensive sectors between 1994 and 2002.

Suggested Citation

  • Wennberg, Karl & Wiklund, Johan & Wright, Mike, 2011. "The effectiveness of university knowledge spillovers: Performance differences between university spinoffs and corporate spinoffs," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(8), pages 1128-1143, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:40:y:2011:i:8:p:1128-1143

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Vohora, Ajay & Wright, Mike & Lockett, Andy, 2004. "Critical junctures in the development of university high-tech spinout companies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 147-175, January.
    2. Nicola Lacetera, 2009. "Academic entrepreneurship," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(7), pages 443-464.
    3. Eric von Hippel, 1986. "Lead Users: A Source of Novel Product Concepts," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(7), pages 791-805, July.
    4. G. Page West III, 2001. "The Achilles Heel of Firm Strategy: Resource Weaknesses and Distinctive Inadequacies," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(3), pages 417-442, May.
    5. Karl Wennberg, 2009. "Knowledge combinations and the survival of financial services ventures," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 259-276, April.
    6. Israel M. Kirzner, 1997. "Entrepreneurial Discovery and the Competitive Market Process: An Austrian Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(1), pages 60-85, March.
    7. Ensley, Michael D. & Hmieleski, Keith M., 2005. "A comparative study of new venture top management team composition, dynamics and performance between university-based and independent start-ups," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1091-1105, September.
    8. Daniel W. Elfenbein & Barton H. Hamilton & Todd R. Zenger, 2010. "The Small Firm Effect and the Entrepreneurial Spawning of Scientists and Engineers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(4), pages 659-681, April.
    9. Erik Stam & Karl Wennberg, 2009. "The roles of R&D in new firm growth," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 77-89, June.
    10. Hsu, David H. & Roberts, Edward B. & Eesley, Charles E., 2007. "Entrepreneurs from technology-based universities: Evidence from MIT," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 768-788, June.
    11. Breschi, Stefano & Lissoni, Francesco, 2001. "Knowledge Spillovers and Local Innovation Systems: A Critical Survey," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(4), pages 975-1005, December.
    12. Link, Albert N. & Siegel, Donald S., 2005. "University-based technology initiatives: Quantitative and qualitative evidence," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 253-257, April.
    13. Massimo Colombo & Philippe Mustar & Mike Wright, 2010. "Dynamics of Science-based entrepreneurship," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 1-15, February.
    14. Nicolaou, Nicos & Birley, Sue, 2003. "Academic networks in a trichotomous categorisation of university spinouts," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 333-359, May.
    15. Timothy B. Folta & Frédéric Delmar & Karl Wennberg, 2010. "Hybrid Entrepreneurship," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(2), pages 253-269, February.
    16. Frank T. Rothaermel & Shanti D. Agung & Lin Jiang, 2007. "University entrepreneurship: a taxonomy of the literature," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 691-791, August.
    17. Toke Reichstein & Ammon Salter & David Gann, 2005. "Last among equals: a comparison of innovation in construction, services and manufacturing in the UK," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(6), pages 631-644.
    18. Ans Heirman & Bart Clarysse, 2004. "How and Why do Research-Based Start-Ups Differ at Founding? A Resource-Based Configurational Perspective," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 29(3_4), pages 247-268, August.
    19. Cooper, Arnold C. & Folta, Timothy B. & Woo, Carolyn, 1995. "Entrepreneurial information search," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 107-120, March.
    20. Steven Klepper & Sally Sleeper, 2005. "Entry by Spinoffs," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(8), pages 1291-1306, August.
    21. Klepper, Steven, 2001. "Employee Startups in High-Tech Industries," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 639-674, September.
    22. Brush, Candida G. & Vanderwerf, Pieter A., 1992. "A comparison of methods and sources for obtaining estimates of new venture performance," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 157-170, March.
    23. Thomas Hellmann, 2007. "When Do Employees Become Entrepreneurs?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(6), pages 919-933, June.
    24. Michael Dahl & Toke Reichstein, 2007. "Are You Experienced? Prior Experience and the Survival of New Organizations," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(5), pages 497-511.
    25. Sapienza, Harry J. & Parhankangas, Annaleena & Autio, Erkko, 2004. "Knowledge relatedness and post-spin-off growth," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 809-829, November.
    26. Baumol, William J., 1996. "Entrepreneurship: Productive, unproductive, and destructive," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 3-22, January.
    27. Alex Coad, 2010. "Exploring the processes of firm growth: evidence from a vector auto-regression," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(6), pages 1677-1703, December.
    28. Henrekson, Magnus & Rosenberg, Nathan, 2001. "Designing Efficient Institutions for Science-Based Entrepreneurship: Lessons from the US and Sweden," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 207-231, June.
    29. 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.
    30. Massimo Colombo & Diego D’Adda & Evila Piva, 2010. "The contribution of university research to the growth of academic start-ups: an empirical analysis," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 113-140, February.
    31. Kenney, Martin & Patton, Donald, 2009. "Reconsidering the Bayh-Dole Act and the Current University Invention Ownership Model," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 1407-1422, November.
    32. Wright, Mike & Lockett, Andy & Clarysse, Bart & Binks, Martin, 2006. "University spin-out companies and venture capital," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 481-501, May.
    33. Colombo, Massimo G. & Grilli, Luca, 2005. "Founders' human capital and the growth of new technology-based firms: A competence-based view," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 795-816, August.
    34. Parker, Simon C, 2009. "Why do small firms produce the entrepreneurs?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 484-494, June.
    35. Sierdjan Koster, 2005. "Entrepreneurial capabilities inherited from previous employment," ERSA conference papers ersa05p212, European Regional Science Association.
    36. Wright, Mike & Clarysse, Bart & Lockett, Andy & Knockaert, Mirjam, 2008. "Mid-range universities' linkages with industry: Knowledge types and the role of intermediaries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1205-1223, September.
    37. Lockett, Andy & Wright, Mike, 2005. "Resources, capabilities, risk capital and the creation of university spin-out companies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1043-1057, September.
    38. Baker, Ted & Miner, Anne S. & Eesley, Dale T., 2003. "Improvising firms: bricolage, account giving and improvisational competencies in the founding process," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 255-276, February.
    39. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:40:y:2011:i:8:p:1128-1143. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.