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Academic entrepreneurship and economic competitiveness: rethinking the role of the entrepreneur


  • Mike Wright
  • Simon Mosey
  • Hannah Noke


There has been an increase in research activity focused on the contribution of university spin-offs to economic competitiveness, yet the majority of the studies have considered the economic performance of universities or spin-offs in isolation. Such studies have cast some doubt on the extent to which spin-offs have generated expected performance benefits in terms of economic impact and have critiqued the role and capabilities of technology transfer offices in adding value to spin-off ventures. With a few exceptions, studies of academic entrepreneurship have tended to omit consideration of the role of the entrepreneur, and thereby neglected any economic contribution outside of spin-off venture creation. We propose that to better understand the economic impact of academic entrepreneurship, there is a need to explicitly recognize the academic entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial behavior across different contexts. First, we suggest that academic entrepreneurship can occur in a wider range of contexts than previously examined, necessitating a consideration of the mobility of academic entrepreneurs back and forth between academic and commercial settings. Second, there is a need to better understand the microfoundations, that is, the behavioral and cognitive processes associated with academic entrepreneurs, as they create and develop enterprises within academe or industry. Third, there is a need to examine the heterogeneity of all universities involved in academic entrepreneurship, specifically looking outside the atypical group of leading research universities and considering the significant variance in entrepreneurial culture between schools within specific universities. Fourth, we propose that the nature of policy toward knowledge transfer and academic entrepreneurship needs to be sensitive to the individual and the context. We argue that policy can have unintended consequences upon the entrepreneurial behavior of individuals due to the significant moderating effect of the entrepreneurial legacy of different contexts. Implications for policy and further research are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Mike Wright & Simon Mosey & Hannah Noke, 2012. "Academic entrepreneurship and economic competitiveness: rethinking the role of the entrepreneur," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(5-6), pages 429-444, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:ecinnt:v:21:y:2012:i:5-6:p:429-444
    DOI: 10.1080/10438599.2012.656528

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    Cited by:

    1. Ricardo Moutinho & Manuel Au-Yong-Oliveira & Arnaldo Coelho & José Pires Manso, 2016. "Determinants of knowledge-based entrepreneurship: an exploratory approach," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 171-197, March.
    2. Timothy Clark & Steven W. Floyd & Mike Wright, 2013. "In Search of the Impactful and the Interesting: Swings of the Pendulum?," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(8), pages 1358-1373, December.

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