The influence of university departments on the evolution of entrepreneurial competencies in spin-off ventures
The influence of the university department upon spin-off venture evolution is complex and dynamic. We examine how the university department context influences the spin-off process from the perspectives of both the spin-off venture and the department. By comparing the development of entrepreneurial competencies within spin-offs based in different departments at the same universities we observed significant differences in early venture performance. Small differences in initial departmental support from management and senior academics for gaining commercial experience and spending time exploring the commercial opportunity were seen to have a major impact upon the subsequent spin-off development path. Supported ventures gained momentum as the department helped develop entrepreneurial competencies and influenced how these competencies were developed from external actors outside the department. By contrast, a lack of departmental support for entrepreneurship severely constrained the evolution of spin-offs regardless of university level policies and practices. This emphasizes the need for a shift in focus from the well-studied university level to the relatively neglected department level to help explain institutional differences in university spin-off activity.
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