The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 415–434 | Cite as

Entrepreneurial universities in two European regions: a case study comparison

  • Maribel GuerreroEmail author
  • David Urbano
  • James Cunningham
  • Damien Organ


An entrepreneurial university is a natural incubator that tries to provide a supportive environment in which the university community can explore, evaluate and exploit ideas that could be transformed into social and economic entrepreneurial initiatives. Entrepreneurial universities are involved in partnerships, networks and other relationships to generate an umbrella for interaction, collaboration and co-operation. Rapid developments in science, the multidisciplinary nature of frontier research, legislative changes such as the Bayh–Dole Act and demands from business and society have shaped knowledge-based entrepreneurship within universities. Despite sharing similar historical backgrounds, economic conditions and cultural and social structures, entrepreneurial universities in most countries remain distinct from one another by their institutional arrangements, traditions and characteristics unique to each organization. Interestingly, no comparative research has been conducted to understand the similarities and differences of the conditioning factors and the outcomes/outputs of entrepreneurial universities in different regions that share similar social, economic and political conditions. This paper addresses this research deficit, adopting institutional economics and resource-based view. We compare entrepreneurial universities in two European regions (Spain and Ireland) using an in-depth qualitative approach based on multiple case studies (two Spanish universities and two Irish universities) between 2006 and 2010. The findings provide organizational practices and approaches relevant to the transformation process of other regional universities seeking to become entrepreneurial.


Entrepreneurial universities Institutional economics Resource-based view Europe 

JEL Classification

M13 L26 I23 I28 



We are most grateful to several participants for their comments and suggestions. We are also grateful to comments and suggestions by two anonymous reviewers, which have decisively contributed to this improved final version of our paper. Maribel Guerrero acknowledges the funding provided by the Mexican Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT). David Urbano has received financial resources from ECO2010-16760 (Spanish Ministry of Education and Science) and 2005SGR00858 (Catalan Government’s Department for Universities, Research and Information Society). James Cunningham and Damien Organ acknowledge funding received from the Higher Education Authority, Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions Cycle 4, and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maribel Guerrero
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • David Urbano
    • 2
  • James Cunningham
    • 3
  • Damien Organ
    • 3
  1. 1.Orkestra-Basque Institute of Competitiveness and Deusto Business SchoolDonostia-San SebastianSpain
  2. 2.Business Economics DepartmentAutonomous University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics and the Whitaker InstituteNational University of Ireland GalwayGalwayIreland

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