The entrepreneurial university: An evidence based framework
Over recent decades, scholars and policymakers have proposed including entrepreneurial objectives as a third mission of universities aside of education and research (Etzkowitz, 2004). Respectively, the concept of ‘entrepreneurial university’ has emerged (Clark, 1998).
Several theoretical models and literature reviews have been developed in an attempt to define the entrepreneurial university and provide conceptual grounding for renewed university policy (e.g. Carayannis & Campbell, 2009; Centobelli et al., 2019; Clark, 1998; Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 1995; Guerrero & Urbano, 2012). Meanwhile, empirical research has so far predominantly focused on case studies (Guerrero et al., 2016; Kirby et al., 2011). This leaves a thorough systematic aggregation of the evidence in this body of knowledge so far lacking. In this study, we synthesize and aggregate earlier empirical work with the purpose of developing a comprehensive evidence-based framework of university management toward cultivating entrepreneurial universities.
In order to obtain relevant knowledge about how universities become entrepreneurial, we performed a systematic review and synthesis of empirical literature in the domain (Rousseau et al., 2008). We consulted three academic databases for peer-reviewed articles on ‘entrepreneurial university’ and related concepts. Next, we applied a filter to include only articles published in top-tier organization, innovation, and higher education and policy journals. We examined the titles and abstracts of the studies to exclude those that did not simultaneously feature both entrepreneurial university as a central phenomenon in the study, and focus on empirical evidence. We proceeded to review and synthesize remaining articles in their entirety, totalling 118 fully reviewed works.
In each article, we coded combinations of Actions and their observed (measured) Effects as they related to how authors described that (antecedents) of the entrepreneurial university were developed. Next, we categorised the Actions and Effects into cohesive clusters, following the procedure presented by Dey (2003), which inductively moves from low-level codes toward high-level thematic concepts.
We performed a cross-tabulation analysis of the codes, which allowed us to trace back connections between Actions and Effects in the entrepreneurial university literature. This resulted in a synthesis that represents a system of Actions and Effects arising from evidence.
AN OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH ON THE ENTREPRENEURIAL UNIVERSITY
The reviewed evidence prominently shows that universities establishing (new) structures and appointing agents of change at an organisational level are by far the most effective actions towards achieving the goal of entrepreneurializing the university. These structures and agents of change include for example technology transfer offices (e.g. Mathieu et al., 2008; O’Shea et al., 2007), university risk capital societies (e.g. Benneworth, 2007; Guerrero & Urbano, 2012), technology institutes 'between fundamental research and industrial development' for promising fields (e.g. Adams, 2010; Goddard al., 2012), and hand-picked professors that inject the entrepreneurial dimension into the university's education and research (e.g. Wong, Ho, & Singh, 2007). Further key actions included embedding entrepreneurship education in the universities’ curricula (e.g. Bramwell & Wolfe, 2008; Dalmarco et al., 2018; Kirby et al., 2011).
We found that ‘entrepreneurial university’ is best thought of as an aggregate of a large number of particular lower-level effects. Meanwhile, achieving an entrepreneurial university has itself been associated with two higher-level effects. On the one hand, an increase in publications (e.g. Budyldina, 2018; Ranga et al., 2003), more commercialised intellectual property rights (e.g. Avnimelech & Feldman, 2015; Mathieu et al., 2008; Meyer et al., 2003), and an increase in university reputation and rankings (e.g. Bramwell & Wolfe, 2008; van Stijn et al., 2018) contribute to an entrepreneurial university, with the ultimate outcome of improving financial sustainability of the institution. On the other hand, new education models and formats in collaboration with external partners (e.g. Adams, 2010; Bramwell & Wolfe, 2008; Ranga et al., 2016), an entrepreneurial student body that is continuously updated and aware of industsry needs (e.g. Dalmarco et al., 2018; Urbano et al., 2017), more successful start-ups and spin-offs (e.g. Philpott et al., 2011; van Stijn et al., 2018; Zhang et al., 2016) and increased numbers of international students and staff (e.g. Cesaroni & Piccaluga, 2016; Sidhu, Ho, & Yeoh, 2011) contribute to increased regional development via their influence in attracting foreign investment (e.g. Coussi et al., 2018; Goddard et al., 2012), their contribution to regional employment growth (e.g. Adams, 2010; Goddard et al., 2012; Kirby et al., 2011), the increase in the educational level of citizens (e.g. Svensson et al., 2012), more highly paid employment (e.g. Bramwell & Wolfe, 2008), their contribution to regional firm innovativeness (e.g. Bramwell & Wolfe, 2008), and to the growth of high tech ecosystems (e.g. Adams, 2010; Etzkowitz et al., 2008). As such, enhancing features of entrepreneurial university contributes to regional development.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
This study has reviewed available empirical evidence on the entrepreneurial university. We have aggregated and synthesized actions that universities and policy-makers have implemented, and the validated effects of such actions to compose an evidence-based framework for university management and governance. The framework spans multiple levels (i.e., governance, management and operations) and sub-systems of the university, implying that entrepreneurial university as a goal entails a large number of interdependent actions and effects.