The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 1039–1082 | Cite as

Conceptualizing academic entrepreneurship ecosystems: a review, analysis and extension of the literature

  • Christopher S. Hayter
  • Andrew J. Nelson
  • Stephanie Zayed
  • Alan C. O’Connor


Policy-related discussions increasingly view universities as so-called “engines of economic growth”. Recognizing that the economic impact of universities is dependent, at least in part, on the success of university-affiliated entrepreneurial ventures, this paper reviews the extant literature to understand how academic entrepreneurship is conceptualized and the extent to which it adopts an ecosystem approach. We find that scholars have largely focused on individual ecosystem elements and characteristics, eschewing strategic and systemic conceptualizations of entrepreneurship ecosystems. As a result, we argue that the ecosystem perspective has not been fully leveraged to influence policy decisions. We conclude by offering several concrete recommendations on future research directions that, if pursued, would further enhance our understanding of the economic impact of universities.


Academic entrepreneurship Ecosystems Technology transfer Entrepreneurship policy Economic development 

JEL Classification

L31 O31 O32 O34 O38 


(*) Indicates articles cited but not included in our review

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher S. Hayter
    • 1
  • Andrew J. Nelson
    • 2
  • Stephanie Zayed
    • 3
  • Alan C. O’Connor
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Organization Research and Design, School of Public AffairsArizona State UniversityPhoenixUSA
  2. 2.Lundquist College of BusinessUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  3. 3.RTI InternationalResearch Triangle ParkUSA

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