Understanding the different types of entrepreneurial academics

Victoria Galan-Muros
Innovative Futures Institute & UIIN

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Todd Davey

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Purpose – Academic entrepreneurship is seen as a pathway for universities to create value from their
knowledge. However, there has been a lack of clarity about what activities constitute academic
entrepreneurship, the different type of entrepreneurial academics and how their perceptions of their
environment relate to their engagement.
Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on a large data set of 10,836 responses across 33 countries, the
empirical study investigates European academics who undertake four academic entrepreneurship activities
(spin-out creation, commercialisation of R&D results, joint R&D and consulting) to determine if they perceive
the environment for academic entrepreneurship differently than those who undertake only some of the
activities and those undertaking none at all.
Findings – The findings show that less than 1% of academics undertake exclusively spin-offs creation or
R&D commercialisation; however, the majority also engage in other entrepreneurial activities such as joint
R&D and consulting and even other education and management engagement activities with industry. In
addition, entrepreneurial academics in Europe perceive significantly higher motivators and more developed
supporting mechanisms for academic entrepreneurship. However, their perceptions of barriers are similar.
Practical implications – At a managerial and policy level, the study results call into question universities
prioritising a narrow view of academic entrepreneurship which focusses only on spin-offs creation and R&D
commercialisation. Instead, a broader view of academic entrepreneurship is recommended and appropriate
mechanisms in place to enable academics to achieve research outcomes from their entrepreneurial activity.
Originality/value – This paper offers an important contribution on how the perception of the environment
contributes to the development of entrepreneurial behaviour in individual academics.