Academic journal article Management & Marketing

Towards a Conceptual Delimitation of Academic Entrepreneurship

Academic journal article Management & Marketing

Towards a Conceptual Delimitation of Academic Entrepreneurship

Article excerpt

Abstract. Without a unanimously accepted definition, the subject of academic entrepreneurship looks chaotic and the studies are hardly linked in order to provide a powerful theoretical framework, which would foster new researches. This paper intends to bring some light to the current debates relating to the ways in which academics can act entrepreneurially by surveying the literature and suggesting a definition, which allows it to be distinguished from other forms of entrepreneurship. The proposed definition is meant to cover all the angles by looking at value producing activities for external actors as the main basis for entrepreneurial academic initiatives. The definition is then used as the main pillar on which to build a distinct characterization of academic entrepreneurship and to disentangle this notion from the knot in which many entrepreneurship threads have been entangled: academic, commercial, social, scientific entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.

Keywords: academic entrepreneurship, scientific entrepreneurship, commercial entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, definition.

1. Introduction

Under the academic entrepreneurship umbrella there have been inserted numerous activities hat have in common the characteristic of being performed by an actor who is dissatisfied with the current situation and is actively working towards changing it. A review of the discussions concerning these behaviors will reveal great discrepancies amongst those concerned with the topic. As a result, the concept did not manage, so far, to inspire a common ground on which to base a new field of studies, the studies of entrepreneurial activities of academic personnel (Johannisson, 2009). Without a unanimously accepted definition, the subject looks blurry and the studies are hardly linked, in order to provide a structured theoretical framework, which would foster new researches. This paper intends to bring some light to the current debates relating to the ways in which academics can act in an entrepreneurial manner, by surveying the literature and suggesting a definition, which allows it to be distinguished from other forms of entrepreneurship, such as social, scientific, intra-organizational or commercial.

Entrepreneurship can be viewed as either opportunity seeking, as money seeking, as a value creating or proactive activity and so on. The definitions included in the present discussion are concerned with the results of the activity which, based on its outcome, is fitted into the entrepreneurial category or not. They do not take a process view of what academic entrepreneurship means, they simply look at the final result of some activity considered mostly a black-box in which institutional and personal inputs go in and an entrepreneurial result comes out. They are also biased in favor of successful attempts at being entrepreneurial inside the academia and fail to account for those activities, which are entrepreneurial but leave no visible traces in the form of tangible results. The proposed definition is meant to cover all these angles by looking at the intention to create value and not only at the results and by talking about value producing activities for external actors as the main basis for entrepreneurial academic initiatives.

The definition is then used as the main pillar on which to build a distinct characterization of academic entrepreneurship and to disentangle this notion from the knot in which many entrepreneurship threads have been entangled: academic, commercial, social, scientific entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. The analysis is based on the framework proposed by Austin et al. (2006), which describes four domains of differences: context, people and resources, opportunity identification and deals. Thus, the concluding part of the paper will take academic entrepreneurship through all these domains pointing out the areas of interest in establishing a clear image of this subject as a stand-alone field of study worthy of its own specific literature and treatment. …

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