IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Motivations and obstacles to networking in a university business incubator


  • Christine Cooper


  • Stephanie Hamel
  • Stacey Connaughton


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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

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

    References listed on IDEAS

    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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    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


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

    JEL classification:

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


    Access and download statistics


    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:kap:jtecht:v:37:y:2012:i:4:p:433-453. 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: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). 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.