Centre for Economic Transformation| CET

Academic entrepreneurship in the context of education

the role of the networking behaviour of academics


Purpose: This study aims to extend literature on academic entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial networking by examining how academics, in their role of entrepreneurial educators, network for the creation and execution of novel teaching practices in cooperation with external actors.

Design/methodology/approach: The empirical investigation is based on qualitative inquiry, using a case study approach. Specifically, eight cases originating at three universities in Germany, The Netherlands and Mexico were examined.

The cases which constituted innovative teaching practices were selected following a replication logic. Each involved extensive participation of societal actors in course development or delivery and aimed to stimulate students to work on real life challenges and disseminate novel knowledge back to the world of practice.

All courses were either introduced or taught by educators who possessed different levels and types of academic and industrial or entrepreneurial experience. Findings: Based on eight cases the authors found that the networking behaviour of entrepreneurial educators is crucial for the generation of proximity with external actors and for the acquisition of key resources, such as an external actor to participate in teaching practice and for the generation of legitimacy for their innovations in teaching. The entrepreneurial and industrial experience of entrepreneurial educators emerges as an affordance to network with external actors, helping them to achieve a common understanding of the opportunity and to generate trust among them.

Practical implications: This study equips managers of higher education institutions with critical insights into innovating the teaching mission of the university and developing closer and stronger relationships with external actors of the university.

Originality/value: This study seeks to advance the literature on academic entrepreneurship by shifting the attention away from academic entrepreneurs as merely founders of spin-offs and collaborators with business on research and development towards entrepreneurial educators who see opportunities in establishing collaborations with external actors as part of their teaching activities.

Further, it introduces the “social networking perspective” to this field. Vissa (2012) and Stam (2015) introduced this perspective as a logical extension to the study of the generation of social capital to reach entrepreneurial goals.

Reference Rossano-Rivero, S., & Wakkee, I. (2019). Academic entrepreneurship in the context of education: the role of the networking behaviour of academics. Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management, 10(4), 951-974. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTPM-03-2018-0034

Publication date

Oct 2019


Sue Rossano-Rivero

Research database