Entrepreneurial universities in two European regions: a case study comparison

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    According to Eurostat, in 2008 the percentage of population aged 25–34 years enrolled in higher education was 42 % in Ireland and 38 % in Catalonia. Also in that year, the percentage of expenses of research and development was 1.45 (Ireland) and 1.62 (Catalonia); and the gross domestic product (GDP) was 0.00348 (Ireland) and 0.00333 (Catalonia) (OECD).

  2. 2.

    Index developed by the Grupo SCImago (2007) to measure the academic productivity of Spanish universities from 1999 to 2007 in terms of the number of papers published in international journals and the number of academics involved in each university.

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Acknowledgments

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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Correspondence to Maribel Guerrero.

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A previous version of this paper was presented at the 2011 Technology Transfer Society Annual Conference (Augsburg, Germany).

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Guerrero, M., Urbano, D., Cunningham, J. et al. Entrepreneurial universities in two European regions: a case study comparison. J Technol Transf 39, 415–434 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-012-9287-2

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Keywords

  • Entrepreneurial universities
  • Institutional economics
  • Resource-based view
  • Europe

JEL Classification

  • M13
  • L26
  • I23
  • I28