Entrepreneurial universities and sustainable development : the network bricolage process of academic entrepreneurs

Padilla-Meléndez, Antonio and Del Aguila-Obra, Ana Rosa and Lockett, Nigel and Fuster, Elena (2020) Entrepreneurial universities and sustainable development : the network bricolage process of academic entrepreneurs. Sustainability, 12 (4). 1403. ISSN 2071-1050

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    Abstract

    This paper studies the network bricolage process of academic entrepreneurs (AEs). Based on a qualitative study, surprisingly, it shows how these entrepreneurs still encounter institutional barriers which exist in universities, in particular regarding building the social capital needed for exploiting their business ideas, and they are not, as expected, well connected to the existing formal networks but rather to the informal ones. This paper uses the bricolage approach of entrepreneurship and the literature on academic entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial universities, and social capital. In-depth interviews with key informants were conducted. Specifically, the study reveals the existence of a relevant network bricolage process of these AEs using informal versus formal networks to develop their ventures. As policy implications, there is a need for a better support from different university levels in order to increase the engagement in entrepreneurial activities of the different individuals. Universities should take a more proactive role when fostering AE activity and solve several barriers that still exist regarding knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship (e.g., bureaucracy and lack of confidence). For AEs, they need to take a more proactive role in building networks and ‘see-sawing’ between both types of network (formal and informal). By doing this, they can overcome the lack of knowledge, build trust, and improve word-of-mouth about their companies. All of this will benefit the university knowledge exchange. As a contribution, this paper explains the behavior of individual entrepreneurs when they exploit business ideas using the networks they have at hand in order to overcome institutional barriers in universities. Furthermore, it describes the process of the selection (‘see-sawing’ metaphor) of informal versus formal networks by AEs when applying their network bricolage.