Journal of International Entrepreneurship

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 323–344 | Cite as

Growth determinants in entrepreneurship: A longitudinal study of Spanish technology-based university spin-offs

  • María Jesús Rodríguez-Gulías
  • Sara Fernández-López
  • David Rodeiro-Pazos


The study explores whether the university origin of a technology-based firm conditions its growth in terms of both sales and employment. The small firm size of a significant percentage of technology-based university spin-offs (T-USOs) puts into question the policies geared towards promoting university entrepreneurship. A sample of 340 Spanish technology-based firms (219 T-USOs and 121 T-non-USOs) was constructed by using the non-parametric technique of propensity score matching and the data refer to the period 2001–2010. Applying panel data methodology, we find that the T-USOs outperform the T-non-USOs. Therefore, the need for support of university-based entrepreneurship by governments and by the universities is justified, because in this way, they are promoting economic growth and social development. By launching T-USOs, universities not only contribute to the economic growth but also to the internationalisation of the economy, as T-USOs show a more international orientation. In addition, the results lead us to emphasise the need to customise university policies aimed at promoting the growth of T-USOs. Given that the study is focused on a ‘moderate innovator’ country, the conclusions and proposals of this paper may be extrapolated to other countries with similar innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems, namely the Mediterranean and Latin American countries.


Technology-based firms University spin-offs Sales growth Employment growth Propensity score matching Panel data Academic entrepreneurship International entrepreneurship 


Este trabajo analiza si el origen de un universitario de una empresa de base tecnológica condiciona su crecimiento tanto en términos de ventas como de empleo. El reducido tamaño de un porcentaje significativo de spin-offs universitarias de base tecnológica (T-USOs) pone en tela de juicio las políticas orientadas a la creación de empresas dentro de las universidades. Una muestra de 340 empresas de base tecnológica (219 T-USOs y 121 T-no-USOS) fue elaborada usando la técnica propensity score matching para el período 2001–2010. Empleando como metodología datos de panel, nos encontramos que los T-USOs superan en nivel crecimiento a las T-no-USOs. Por tanto, se ha justificado en cierta medida la necesidad de apoyar el emprendimiento universitario. Además, mediante la promoción y creación de T- USOs, las universidades no sólo contribuyen al crecimiento económico, sino también a la internacionalización de la economía, debido que este tipo de empresas poseen una mayor orientación internacional. Además, los resultados obtenidos nos llevan a hacer hincapié en la necesidad de personalizar las políticas universitarias dirigidas a promover el crecimiento de T-USOs. Dado que este trabajo está enfocado en un país ligeramente innovador las conclusiones y políticas recomendadas en nuestro trabajo se pueden extrapolar a países que estén en una etapa similar en las actividades de creación de T-USOs, en particular los países del Mediterráneo y Latinoamérica.

Palabras clave

Empresas de base tecnológica Spin-off universitarias Crecimiento ventas Crecimiento empleo PSM Datos de panel Emprendimiento académico Emprendimiento internacional 

JEL classification



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Finance and AccountingUniversidade da CoruñaA CoruñaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Finance and AccountingUniversidade de Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain

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