Entrepreneurial Opportunity Recognition and Exploitation in the Academia: a Dynamic Process of Networking
Decision-making, incentives, environmental frameworks and support mechanism are often subject to entrepreneurship research striving to explain how and why academics engage in entrepreneurial activities. The focus is most often on the academicsâ€™ rather linear individual transformation from an idea owner to a new business entrepreneur.This paper proposes an alternative network based view of academic entrepreneurship drawing concepts from interdisciplinary theories. Entrepreneurship is described as: (1) integrated in formal and informal networks; (2) hindered or eased by these linkages; and (3) shaped by the opportunities (idea recognition, experience, finance etc.) within these networks. The academia produces new knowledge that through entrepreneurial activities transform into innovations in the market place. Academic entrepreneurship therefore naturally combines the perspectives of entrepreneurship and innovation. However, despite many common touching grounds these strands of research are rarely conceptually intertwined. Research on the role of the academia within the innovation process of knowledge-based economies highlight the meaning of inter-institutional links and give reason to assume that closer links between industry and the academia would benefit commercialization. However, little is known about the structure, strength and nature of these links. This paper has two purposes. 1) To examine the structure, strength and significance of networking to entrepreneurship with a deepened focus on opportunity recognition (commercial value) and exploitation in the perspective of academic entrepreneurship. 2) To develop a working hypothesis to be empirically tested with the aim to contribute towards theory building for these unanswered questions, for which it does not exist a cohesive normative, predictive, or explanatory theory. Method â€“ Using an interdisciplinary theoretical framework a sample of academic entrepreneurs in the region of Fujian province in China is analyzed through data based on interviews. Paper contribution - This framing has potential for practical relevance and academic inquiry. It forces acknowledgement of the close connection between social and economic conditions for academic entrepreneurship and the role of networks for academic entrepreneurship. It also untangles a web of formal support systems and informal entrepreneurial networks. Conclusion - The process of the idea commercialized on the market may not be seen as a linear process, in which the academic owns the idea (identification of the commercial viable science) and becomes the entrepreneur by starting a company but rather as a dynamic process in which the origin of the idea may come from outside, indentified by members within the network of the academic and the appreciation of its commercial value, and the necessary resources (finance, entrepreneurial experience, re-innovation processes etc.) is added by yet others within the network. The presented concept describes academic entrepreneurial actions as non-isolated, non-deterministic, and dynamic co-creating through networks.
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