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Motivations and obstacles to networking in a university business incubator

Author

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  • Christine Cooper

    ()

  • Stephanie Hamel
  • Stacey Connaughton

Abstract

Business incubators strive to develop robust business and social networks to bring value to their resident companies in the form of intellectual and material resources. Yet, information about what motivates resident companies to participate in networking activities and the obstacles they face in trying to build effective networks is limited. This study employs a communication perspective to examine the process of incubation in an award-winning university business incubator. Using a combination of network analysis and in-depth interviews, the case study reveals the nature of communication in the internal network of 18 resident companies and the incubator administrators. Despite being on the cutting edge of innovations in technology use, study findings reveal face-to-face interaction in the incubator is predominant. The physical proximity of resident companies at the incubator influences who they talk to the most, suggesting incubator site design is important in creating an entrepreneurial environment. The case study also indicates resident company motivations for networking include a strong desire for social support to help manage stress, security of membership in an in-group, and increased access to material or information resources. The primary obstacles residents face to participating in networking and building relationships with each other include extreme time limitations during the early start-up phase, lack of ongoing information about other residents, and lack of trust related to keeping information about innovations and funding sources secure. Implications of these findings and recommendations for incubator managers for building successful and sustainable communication networks conclude the article. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Christine Cooper & Stephanie Hamel & Stacey Connaughton, 2012. "Motivations and obstacles to networking in a university business incubator," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 433-453, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jtecht:v:37:y:2012:i:4:p:433-453
    DOI: 10.1007/s10961-010-9189-0
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10961-010-9189-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barbara Becker & Oliver Gassmann, 2006. "Corporate Incubators: Industrial R&D and What Universities can Learn from them," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 31(4), pages 469-483, July.
    2. Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby & Jeff S. Armstrong, 2003. "Commercializing knowledge: university science, knowledge capture and firm performance in biotechnology," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Sep, pages 149-170.
    3. Sean M. Hackett & David M. Dilts, 2004. "A Systematic Review of Business Incubation Research," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 55-82, January.
    4. Lois Peters & Mark Rice & Malavika Sundararajan, 2004. "The Role of Incubators in the Entrepreneurial Process," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 83-91, January.
    5. Rothaermel, Frank T. & Thursby, Marie, 2005. "University-incubator firm knowledge flows: assessing their impact on incubator firm performance," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 305-320, April.
    6. Ikujiro Nonaka & Ryoko Toyama, 2002. "A firm as a dialectical being: towards a dynamic theory of a firm," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(5), pages 995-1009, November.
    7. Udell, Gerald G., 1990. "Academe and the goose that lays its golden egg," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 29-37.
    8. Sean M. Hackett & David M. Dilts, 2004. "A Real Options-Driven Theory of Business Incubation," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 41-54, January.
    9. Peter R. Monge & Lynda White Rothman & Eric M. Eisenberg & Katherine I. Miller & Kenneth K. Kirste, 1985. "The Dynamics of Organizational Proximity," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(9), pages 1129-1141, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Isabel Diez-Vial & Angeles Montoro-Sanchez, 2017. "Research evolution in science parks and incubators: foundations and new trends," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 110(3), pages 1243-1272, March.
    2. Aurora A.C. Teixeira & Marlene Grande, 2013. "Determinants of the economic performance of Portuguese Academic Spin-offs: do Science & Technology infrastructures and support matter?," FEP Working Papers 502, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    3. José Barbero & José Casillas & Mike Wright & Alicia Ramos Garcia, 2014. "Do different types of incubators produce different types of innovations?," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 151-168, April.
    4. repec:kap:jtecht:v:42:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10961-016-9510-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Elena Giaretta, 2014. "The trust “builders” in the technology transfer relationships: an Italian science park experience," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 39(5), pages 675-687, October.
    6. Catarina Roseira & Carla Ramos & Francisco Maia, 2014. "Understanding Incubator Value – A Network Approach to University Incubators," FEP Working Papers 532, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    7. repec:kap:jtecht:v:42:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10961-016-9491-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Jin Hong & Jinfeng Lu, 2016. "Assessing the effectiveness of business incubators in fostering SMEs: evidence from China," International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 20(1/2), pages 45-60.
    9. Zhang, Haihong & Wu, Wenqing & Zhao, Liming, 2016. "A study of knowledge supernetworks and network robustness in different business incubators," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 447(C), pages 545-560.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business incubator; Communication network; Motivations to communicate; Social support; Trust; Y45; Y80;

    JEL classification:

    • Y80 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines - - - Related Disciplines

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