Academic Entrepreneurship: A Case Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – To explore, describe and explain what processes are at work in facilitating or inhibiting entrepreneurship amongst academics. Design/methodology/approach – A corporate entrepreneurship perspective is used to construct a framework for understanding academic entrepreneurship at different ontological levels within a university context. A single case study method is adopted involving a purposeful sampling strategy of academic entrepreneurs within one university. A sense-making approach investigated the practice of entrepreneurship by academics. Findings – Develops a tentative framework for bounding the phenomenon of academic entrepreneurship and presents a model that attempts to identify key elements of academic entrepreneurship in terms of different modes of knowledge production and value-creating processes. Research limitations/implications – The single case setting limits the applicability of the research to other institutions. However, the framework and model that are developed and the overall approach are valuable contributions to an important, emerging research area. The academic entrepreneurship framework provides a series of logically related conceptual bins that form a basis for future research. The model of academic entrepreneurship attempts to explain how academics produce different types of knowledge. Practical implications – The paper suggests that academic entrepreneurs have a complex set of relationships with their parent disciplines and the university setting within which they operate. The outcomes indicate that orthodox models of entrepreneurship are not always meaningful as regards understanding what academic entrepreneurs actually do in practice. Originality/value – The paper investigates a little-understood phenomenon and one that is increasingly important for UK policy makers and university administrators. The academic entrepreneurship framework and model is an original and valuable contribution to the study of this phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-164
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurship Behaviour and Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Birley, S. (2002), “Universities, academics, and spinout companies: lessons from Imperial”,
International Journal of Entrepreneurship Education, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 133-53.
Blacker, F. (1995), “Knowledge, knowledge work and organizations: an overview and
interpretation”, Organisation Studies, Vol. 16 No. 6, pp. 1021-46.
Brazeal, D.V. and Herbert, T.T. (1999), “The genesis of entrepreneurship”, Entrepreneurship
Theory and Practice, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 29-45.
Brown, J.S. and Duguid, P. (1998), “Organising knowledge”, California Management Review,
Vol. 40 No. 3, pp. 90-111.
Chrisman, J.J., Hynes, T. and Fraser, S. (1995), “Faculty entrepreneurship and economic
development: the case of the University of Calgary”, Journal of Business Venturing, Vol. 10
No. 4, pp. 267-81.
Clark, B. (1998), Creating Entrepreneurial Universities: Organisational Pathways of
Transformation, Pergamon Press, New York, NY.
Cohen, W. and Levinthal, D. (1990), “Absorptive capacity: a new perspective on learning and
innovation”, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 128-52.
Collins, H. (1993), “The structure of knowledge”, Social Research, Vol. 60 No. 1, pp. 95-116.
Cook, S.D.N. and Brown, J.S. (1999), “Bridging epistemologies: the generative dance between
organisational knowledge and organisational knowing”, Organisation Science, Vol. 10
No. 4, pp. 381-400.
Cooper, S. (2000), “Technical entrepreneurship”, in Carter, S. and Jones-Evans, D. (Eds),
Enterprise and Small Business, Pearson, Harlow, pp. 220-41.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999), “A systems perspective on creativity”, in Henry, J. (Ed.), Creative
Management, Sage, London, pp. 11-26.
Dess, G.G., Ireland, R.D., Zahra, S.A., Floyd, S.W., Janney, J.J. and Lane, P.J. (2003), “Emerging
issues in corporate entrepreneurship”, Journal of Management, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 351-78.
Dickson, K., Coles, A. and Smith, H. (1998), “Science in the marketplace: the role of the scientific
entrepreneur”, in During, W. and Oakey, R. (Eds), New Technology-based Firms in the
1990s, Paul Chapman, London, pp. 27-37.
Eisenhardt, K.M. (1989), “Building theories from case study research”, Academy of Management
Review, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 532-50.
Ekvall, G. (2002), “Organisational conditions and levels of creativity”, in Henry, J. and
Mayle, D. (Eds), Creative Management, Sage, London, pp. 99-110.
Etzkowitz, H. (1983), “Entrepreneurial scientists and entrepreneurial universities in American
academic science”, Minerva, Vol. 21, Autumn, pp. 198-233.
Etzkowitz, H. (2003a), “The European entrepreneurial university: an alternative to the US
model”, Industry and Higher Education, October, pp. 325-35.
Etzkowitz, H. (2003b), “Research groups as ‘quasi-firms’: the invention of the entrepreneurial
university”, Research Policy, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 109-21.
Fuller, T. and Moran, P. (2001), “Small enterprises as complex adaptive systems:
a methodological question”, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, Vol. 13 No. 1,
pp. 47-63.
Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P. and Trow, M. (1994), The New
Production of Knowledge, Sage, London.
Guba, E.G. and Lincoln, Y.S. (1994), “Competing paradigms in qualitative research”, in
Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. (Eds), Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage, Thousand
Oaks, CA, pp. 105-17.
Hitt, M.A., Ireland, R.D., Camp, M. and Sexton, D.L. (2001), “Strategic entrepreneurship:
entrepreneurial strategies for wealth creation”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 22,
pp. 479-91.
Hurst, D.K. (1995), Crisis and Renewal: Meeting the Challenge of Organizational Change, Harvard
Business Press, Boston, MA.
Jones-Evans, D. (1995), “A typology of technology-based entrepreneurs: a model based on
previous occupational background”, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour
& Research, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 26-47.
Kirton, M. (1984), “Adaptors and innovators: why new initiatives get blocked”, Long Range
Planning, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 137-43.
Krackhardt, D. and Hanson, J. (1993), “Informal networks: the company behind the chart”,
Harvard Business Review, Vol. 71 No. 4, pp. 104-11.
Kuhn, T.S. (1962), The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, Chicago,
Louis, K.S., Blumenthal, D., Gluck, M.E. and Stoto, M.A. (1989), “Entrepreneurs in academe:
an exploration of behaviours among life scientists”, Administrative Science Quarterly,
Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 110-31.
Louw, L., van Eeden, S.M., Bosch, J.K. and Venter, D.J.L. (2003), “Entrepreneurial traits of
undergraduate students at selected South African tertiary institutions”, International
Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 5-26.
Lundberg, C.C. (1999), “Finding research agendas: getting started Weick-like”, available at:
Lundvall, B. (1992), National Systems of Innovation: Towards a Theory of Innovation and
Interactive Learning, Pinter Publishers, London.
Martin, J.N.T. (2000), Managing Problems Creatively, The Open University, Milton Keynes.
Miles, M.P. and Covin, J.G. (2002), “Exploring the practice of corporate venturing: some common
forms and their organisational implications”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice,
Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 21-40.
Nonaka, I. (1994), “A dynamic theory of organisational knowledge creation”, Organisation
Science, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 14-37.
Nonaka, I. and Takeuchi, H. (1995), The Knowledge-creating Company: How Japanese Companies
Create the Dynamics of Innovation, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Oakey, R.P. (1995), High-technology New Firms: Variable Barriers to Growth, Paul Chapman,
OST (2001), Science Enterprise Challenge Guidelines, Office of Science and Technology, London,
available at:
Roberts, E.B. (1991), Entrepreneurs in High Technology: Lessons from MIT and Beyond, Oxford
University Press, Oxford.
Samson, K.J. and Gurdon, M.A. (1993), “University scientists as entrepreneurs: a special case of
technology transfer and high technology venturing”, Technovation, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 63-71.
Saxenian, A. (1996), Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route
128, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Segal, N.S. (1986), “Universities and technological entrepreneurship in Britain: some implications
of the Cambridge phenomenon”, Technovation, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 189-204.
Senge, P. (1990), The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, Century
Business, London.
Sharma, P. and Chrisman, J.J. (1999), “Towards a reconciliation of the definitional issues in the
field of corporate entrepreneurship”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Vol. 23 No. 3,
pp. 11-27.
Sharma, S. (1999), “Trespass or symbiosis? Dissolving the boundaries between strategic
marketing and strategic management”, Journal of Strategic Marketing, Vol. 7 No. 2,
pp. 73-88.
Spilling, O.R. (1996), “The entrepreneurial system”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 36 No. 1,
pp. 91-103.
Storey, D.J. and Tether, B.S. (1998), “Public policy measures to support new technology-based
firms in the European Union”, Research Policy, Vol. 26 No. 9, pp. 1037-57.
Tidd, J. and Barnes, S. (1999), “Spin-in or spin-out? Corporate venturing in life sciences”,
International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 109-16.
Tidd, J., Bessant, J. and Pavitt, K. (2005), Managing Innovation, Wiley, Chichester.
Van de Ven, A.H. (1993), “The development of an infrastructure for entrepreneurship”, Journal of
Business Venturing, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 211-30.
Walton, A.P. (2003), “The impact of interpersonal factors on creativity”, International Journal of
Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 146-62.
Weick, K.E. (1995), Sensemaking in Organisations, Sage, Beverly Hills, CA.
Wenger, E. (2000), “Communities of practice and social learning systems”, Organization, Vol. 7
No. 2, pp. 225-46.
Yin, R. (1994), Case Study Research, Sage, Beverly Hills, CA.
Yin, R. (2003), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Zahra, S.A. and Dess, G.G. (2001), “Entrepreneurship as a field of research: encouraging dialogue
and debate”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 26, pp. 8-10.
Zhao, F. (2005), “Exploring the synergy between entrepreneurship and innovation”, International
Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 25-41.
Further reading
Fine, M., Weis, L., Weseen, S. and Wong, L. (2000), “For who? Qualitative research,
representation and social responsibilities”, in Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. (Eds),
Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 107-32.
Stake, R.E. (2000), “Case studies”, in Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. (Eds), Handbook of
Qualitative Research, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 435-54.


Dive into the research topics of 'Academic Entrepreneurship: A Case Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this