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Leveraging the “living laboratory”: On the emergence of the entrepreneurial hospital


  • French, Martin
  • Miller, Fiona Alice


For years, scholars have debated the “commercial ethos” in higher education, and the rise of the entrepreneurial university. But what of the “entrepreneurial hospital”? Largely unnoticed by scholars, this unique organisational form differs from the entrepreneurial university in some significant ways, not least in its capacity to use its innovations, and to count patients—and even patient populations—amongst its human capital. Accordingly, this article provides an initial conceptualisation of the entrepreneurial hospital, along with an exploration of its larger implications. Using twenty-six semi-structured interviews with key-informants (2008–2009), who work in two networked organisations within a single academic health science system in a Canadian province, our analysis identifies distinctive characteristics of an entrepreneurial hospital. Informed by grounded theory, especially situational analysis, we derive from our data an illustration of potentially incommensurate understandings of the entrepreneurial hospital's resources. On one hand, our study participants view patients and patient populations as a resource for research, linking its value to the contribution it can make to improved, more cost-effective care. On the other hand, some also see commercial potential in this resource. In both cases, exploitation is accompanied by perceived obligations to make proper use of patient populations, and to “give back” to the public-at-large, including through the entrepreneurial search for new ways of mobilising the resources of publicly-funded health care. Thus, a key task of the entrepreneurial hospital is to invent and mediate new uses for its care infrastructure and the unique resource constituted by patient populations. By drawing together care and research in new ways, the entrepreneurial hospital promises increased capacity for biomedical innovation. Yet, as it invents and mediates new uses for patient populations and health care infrastructure, the entrepreneurial hospital stands to significantly redefine both systems of care and the bonds of social solidarity.

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  • French, Martin & Miller, Fiona Alice, 2012. "Leveraging the “living laboratory”: On the emergence of the entrepreneurial hospital," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(4), pages 717-724.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:4:p:717-724
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.04.010

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Dirk Czarnitzki & Andrew Toole, 2010. "Is there a trade-off between academic research and faculty entrepreneurship? Evidence from US NIH supported biomedical researchers," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(5), pages 505-520.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lander, Bryn, 2016. "Boundary-spanning in academic healthcare organisations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1524-1533.
    2. Nina Fudge & Euan Sadler & Helen R Fisher & John Maher & Charles D A Wolfe & Christopher McKevitt, 2016. "Optimising Translational Research Opportunities: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of Basic and Clinician Scientists' Perspectives of Factors Which Enable or Hinder Translational Research," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(8), pages 1-23, August.
    3. Taran Thune & Magnus Gulbrandsen, 2016. "Innovation in hospitals: piloting a tool for investigating contributions of hospital employees to innovation," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20161211, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
    4. Miller, Fiona A. & French, Martin, 2016. "Organizing the entrepreneurial hospital: Hybridizing the logics of healthcare and innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1534-1544.
    5. Lunt, Neil & Exworthy, Mark & Hanefeld, Johanna & Smith, Richard D., 2015. "International patients within the NHS: A case of public sector entrepreneurialism," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 338-345.
    6. Thune, Taran & Mina, Andrea, 2016. "Hospitals as innovators in the health-care system: A literature review and research agenda," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1545-1557.


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