Promoting university startups: international patterns, vicarious learning and policy implications
Abbreviated Journal Title
J. Technol. Transf.
Organizational vicarious learning; University-startups; International; patterns; SPIN-OUT COMPANIES; ECONOMIC-DEVELOPMENT; REGIONAL INNOVATION; INDUSTRY; BIOTECHNOLOGY; ENTREPRENEURSHIP; PERFORMANCE; KNOWLEDGE; SCIENCE; US; Engineering, Industrial; Management
Anecdotal evidence indicates universities around the world fashion programs to permit or encourage university-linked start ups, in pursuit of improved regional wealth and job creation, often influenced by the iconic vision of Silicon Valley. This paper explores whether these programs are leading to a pattern of similar startups across the world, and gradually improving performance, or to ongoing variation in activities and outcomes, with potential for both harmful and serendipitous unintended outcomes. We use a theoretical lens of research on multiple organizations trying to learn from others-or repeated vicarious organizational learning. The paper first suggests that while startup programs share similar goals they do not generate similar startups across regions and time, with important variation in structure, links to home schools, and localization. It then posits that these programs appear to have varied outcomes in terms of their economic goals, and stresses the difficulty and importance of evaluating this issue. Finally, the paper details important potential unintended (collateral) outcomes, both harmful and valued. Dangers noted include not only traditional concerns with science norms or faculty time, but also the potential impact on humanities and the social sciences. Potential collateral benefits include facilitating the ability of students and citizens to create new forms of value more broadly. Theoretically, the paper speculates that ongoing vicarious learning by multiple organizations in this context may increase or at least sustain variation in outcomes, leading to some excellent but many indeterminate or harmful outcomes rather than homogenization among startups or outcomes. From a policy viewpoint, our review suggests that policymakers should abandon the search for a 'secret sauce' that will assure regional growth from startups. Instead, we suggest that they tailor programs to local skills and experience, actively monitor economic and non-economic impact, and expand the overall vision to include values and skills of autonomy and the creation of new forms of value more broadly.
Journal of Technology Transfer
"Promoting university startups: international patterns, vicarious learning and policy implications" (2012). Faculty Bibliography 2010s. 3032.