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Identifying the emergence of academic entrepreneurship within the technology transfer literature


Though academic entrepreneurship has long been associated with technology transfer and more broadly with the passage of the Bayh–Dole Act in 1980, we have little understanding of its emergence as a research field. This paper therefore investigates development of the concept of academic entrepreneurship by studying the use of related keywords in the titles of papers published in the Journal of Technology Transfer (JTT) beginning with volume 1 in 1977. We conclude from our empirical findings that the role of universities in technology transfer has been consistently emphasized in the titles of papers published in the JTT over time, with entrepreneurship emerging more recently as a crucial area of scholarly focus.

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  1. As discussed below, noteworthy is the fact that the Jolly and Creighton (1977) definition of technology transfer in Table 1 appeared in the first issue of the Journal of Technology Transfer (JTT).

  2. Arguably, the contemporary defining study on academic entrepreneurship is by Siegel and Wright (2015). Relatedly, see Urbano and Guerrero (2013), Guerrero and Urbano (2014), Schmitz et al. (2017), and Roncancio-Marin (2022).

  3. See literature reviews by Hayter et al. (2018) and Mathisen and Rasmussen (2019). See also Hayter and Link (2018) for the strategic role of publications in nascent ventures.

  4. In the first issue of the JTT, in 1977, the scope of the journal was described in the following way (Editorial, 1977, p. 5): “It is the desire of the editors and the editorial advisory board to have articles in the Journal of Technology Transfer that cover a specific range of interest. There should be some theoretical articles dealing with technology transfer, technology assessment, and technology forecasting. Some articles should concentrate on the pragmatic techniques used to accomplish technology transfer, technology assessment or technology forecasting. A third category, that is believed to be of importance to the Journal of Technology Transfer readers, is case studies of technology assessment or technology forecasting. Both successful and unsuccessful cases need to be documented and reported. Both are important for education and reference. Yet another, a fourth category, that appears to have reader interest, is a narrative description of an organization whose principle product is the main stream of technology transfer, technology assessment or technology forecasting.”

  5. The aims and scope of the Journal of Technology Transfer under the new editorial regime has not changed over time. It remains as: “The Journal of Technology Transfer provides an international forum for research on the economic, managerial and policy implication of technology transfer, entrepreneurship, and innovation. The Journal is especially interested in articles that focus on the relationship between the external environment and organizations (governments, public agencies, firms, universities) and their innovation process. The Journal welcomes alternative modes of presentation ranging from broad empirical analyses, to theoretical models, to case studies based on theoretical foundations.” See

  6. Maria Papadakis of James Madison University was also invited to be an editor.

  7. In this paper, we define the year of publication to be the calendar year of the online publication of a paper. This dating method most closely identifies in time the year relevant to the author’s choice of keywords. At the JTT, an author’s online published paper occurs within weeks of the paper’s final acceptance.

  8. 304 of the 1578 published papers used either the term technology transfer(s) or technology-transfer(s), and a number of those paper titles focused on the university. The term Bayh–Dole appeared three times.

  9. We did not expand the sampling population to the end of calendar year 2022 because the date of an online publication was not consistently available.

  10. See, for example, Link et al. (2011) and Link and Van Hasselt (2019, 2023). A detailed discussion of the Bayh–Dole Act is in, for example, Link and Oliver (2020).

  11. A time series is stationary if its first two moments do not depend on the time at which it is observed. Stationarity is required, as a regression of nonstationary time series can lead to spurious results which do not reflect a meaningful underlying relationship.

  12. Statistical information on each ADF test is available from the authors on request.

  13. See footnote 7.

  14. For recent work on the entrepreneurial university see, for example, Menter (2023) and Radko et al. (2023).


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Hayter, C.S., Link, A.N. & Schaffer, M. Identifying the emergence of academic entrepreneurship within the technology transfer literature. J Technol Transf 48, 1800–1812 (2023).

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