Through their missions of education, research and innovation, higher education institutions play a crucial role in the production and dissemination of knowledge. Besides publishing scientific articles and educating candidates for the labor market, they also contribute to economic growth and competitiveness by creating opportunities that can be commercially exploited (e.g. Fritsch and Schwirten, 1999; McKelvey and Zaring, 2017; Goel, Göktepe-Hultén & Grimpe, 2017). This trend towards universities acting as a catalyst for entrepreneurial activity is at the heart of the academic entrepreneurship phenomenon (Etzkowitz, Webster, Gebhardt, & Terra, 2000). In fact, universities can be regarded as entrepreneurial hubs with multiple and integrated knowledge-based functions that range from the traditional development of pure knowledge and technology, to contributions to innovative ecosystems, to their role as a catalyst for innovation performance and community engagement (McKelvey and Zaring, 2017; Smith and Bagchi‐Sen, 2006).
The justification to use academic and intellectual resources for entrepreneurial activities is found in the ability of academics to be creative and to contribute to our knowledge society (Audretsch, Lehmann and Wright, 2014). Academic excellence in the three university missions is thus a prerequisite for generating not only international acknowledgment but also for the future progress and entrepreneurial advancement of societies. Being able to optimally generate and use these resources of academia helps to attract attention by policy makers, university managers and business developers (Grimpe and Hussinger, 2013).
First, concerning the traditional education mission, academic excellence can be brought forward by both supporting creative, entrepreneurial thinkers as well as equipping them with necessary skills to establish new businesses. Engaging in innovative activities is not limited to new business creation, but can also be found in corporate entrepreneurship. Second, excellence in the research mission can be traced in terms of bibliometric analyses and by making use of suitable indicators of local and/or global spillovers. Third, higher education institutions contribute more directly to the development of innovative technologies that generate social and economic welfare. Being (or becoming) excellent in academia is thus crucial as knowledge creation, university‐industry relations and science‐based entrepreneurial firms are key components of academic excellence.
This special issue aims to contribute to the understanding and evaluation of how academic excellence affects the processes through which innovative knowledge is created and translated to a technological advantage. Positive as well as negative effects are likely to be identified, especially with reference to:
- University attractiveness for star scientists, given that star scientists or star institutions, incentive structures and competitive elements are expected to be more relevant within respective peer groups than in the overall population (Agrawal, McHale, and Oettl, 2017);
- Relevance and impact of research group activity, allowing a better understanding of the interplay of individuals, institutions and systemic factors in facilitating applicable knowledge to technological, scientific and societal progress (Egeln, Gottschalk, and Rammer, 2004; Perkmann et al., 2013);
- Allocation mechanisms for resources dedicated to innovative activities, given that the evaluation of excellence within the university‐specific context, as well as the connected peer‐group specific mechanisms that foster innovative activities and knowledge production, supports academic engagement that benefits the community (Braunerhjelm, 2008);
- Governance specific issues, given that academic entrepreneurship is reliant on efficient internal and external governance mechanisms to bridge the so‐called knowledge filter (Audretsch, 2014).
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- Innovation and entrepreneurial activities in higher education institutions
Which arrangement, policies or managerial activities lead to entrepreneurial activities for the involved individuals, groups or institutions? What influences patenting or spinoff activities? How can industry links, managerial practices or political instruments facilitate a contribution to the third mission of universities? What are the consequences and spillover effects for the ecosystem if universities engage in entrepreneurial activities?
- The role of governance and leadership in higher education institutions
What and how do incentives, sanctions or structures influence university managers on a micro‐level and university systems on a macro‐level? What role do governing bodies like rectors or boards of directors play for higher education institutions? What leadership skills influence universities on the first, second and third mission? How do characteristics of managing bodies influence entrepreneurial output?
- Peer group and star effects in science and academic entrepreneurship
What role does the peer group play in motivating and coordinating academic employees? What influences academic entrepreneurship from a peer group, rather than an overall, perspective? What are the determinants of excellence with respect to organization and/or peer group specific means and restrictions?
- Financing innovation and entrepreneurial activity in higher education institutions
How are new forms of financing influencing the entrepreneurial output of universities? What role does digitalization play in the financing context, e.g. with regards to crowdfunding? What are alternative sources of finance and how do higher education institutions, society and politics use and perceive them? In what ways are different financing mechanisms influencing universities’ decisions and business models?
- Comparative and international studies on the impact of higher education institutions
What can we learn from a cross‐country comparison? What are the micro‐ and the macro‐ perspectives on the higher education market? How do higher education systems differ regionally or internationally? What are the effects of differing policy instruments on respective institutions, their business models, or organizational strategies? How do different higher education institutions react to incentives that should foster research or entrepreneurship? What role does the internationalization of spinoffs play in differing systems and why?
Paper submissions will undergo rigorous editorial screening and double‐blind peer review by a minimum of two recognized scholars. The standard requirements of Industry and Innovation for submissions apply. Please consult the journal submission guidelines available here.
Submissions to the Special Issue due by February 28, 2019
Publication of the Special Issue in 2020
Agrawal, A., McHale, J., & Oettl, A. (2017). How stars matter: Recruiting and peer effects in evolutionary biology. Research Policy, 46(4), 853‐867.
Audretsch, D. B. (2014). From the entrepreneurial university to the university for the entrepreneurial society. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 39(3), 313‐321.
Audretsch, D. B., Lehmann, E. E., & Wright, M. (2014). Technology transfer in a global economy. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 39(3), 301‐312.
Braunerhjelm, P. (2008). Specialization of Regions and Universities: The New Versus the Old. Industry and innovation, 15(3), 253‐275.
Egeln, J., Gottschalk, S., & Rammer, C. (2004). Location decisions of spin‐offs from public research institutions. Industry and innovation, 11(3), 207‐223.
Etzkowitz, H., Webster, A., Gebhardt, C., & Terra, B. R. C. (2000). The future of the university and the university of the future: evolution of ivory tower to entrepreneurial paradigm. Research Policy, 29(2), 313‐330.
Fritsch, M., & Schwirten, C. (1999). Enterprise‐University Co‐operation and the Role of Public Research Institutions in Regional Innovation Systems. Industry and innovation, 6(1), 69‐83.
Goel, R. K., Göktepe‐Hultén, D. & Grimpe, C. (2017). Who instigates university–industry collaborations? University scientists versus firm employees. Smalll Business Economics, 48(3), 503‐524.
Grimpe, C., & Hussinger, K. (2013). Formal and informal knowledge and technology transfer from academia to industry: Complementarity effects and innovation performance. Industry and innovation, 20(8), 683‐700.
McKelvey, M., & Zaring, O. (2017). Co‐delivery of social innovations: exploring the university’s role in academic engagement with society. Industry and innovation, 25(6), 594‐611.
Perkmann, M., Tartari, V., McKelvey, M., Autio, E., Broström, A., D’Este, P., . . . Sobrero, M. (2013). Academic engagement and commercialisation: A review of the literature on university–industry relations. Research Policy, 42(2), 423‐442.
Smith, H. L., & Bagchi‐Sen, S. (2006). University–industry interactions: the case of the UK biotech industry. Industry and innovation, 13(4), 371‐392.
- Guest Editor: Erik Lehmann, University of Ausburg, Germany
- Guest Editor: Michele Meoli, University of Bergamo, Italy
- Guest Editor: Stefano Paleari, University of Bergamo, Italy
- Guest Editor: Sarah Stockinger, University of Ausburg, Germany