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Academic entrepreneurship: an exploratory case study

Michael C. Brennan (University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Newtownabbey, UK)
Pauric McGowan (University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Newtownabbey, UK)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 1 May 2006




To explore, describe and explain what processes are at work in facilitating or inhibiting entrepreneurship amongst academics.


A corporate entrepreneurship perspective is used to construct a framework for understanding academic entrepreneurship at different ontological levels within a university context. A single case study method is adopted involving a purposeful sampling strategy of academic entrepreneurs within one university. A sense‐making approach investigated the practice of entrepreneurship by academics.


Develops a tentative framework for bounding the phenomenon of academic entrepreneurship and presents a model that attempts to identify key elements of academic entrepreneurship in terms of different modes of knowledge production and value‐creating processes.

Research limitations/implications

The single case setting limits the applicability of the research to other institutions. However, the framework and model that are developed and the overall approach are valuable contributions to an important, emerging research area. The academic entrepreneurship framework provides a series of logically related conceptual bins that form a basis for future research. The model of academic entrepreneurship attempts to explain how academics produce different types of knowledge.

Practical implications

The paper suggests that academic entrepreneurs have a complex set of relationships with their parent disciplines and the university setting within which they operate. The outcomes indicate that orthodox models of entrepreneurship are not always meaningful as regards understanding what academic entrepreneurs actually do in practice.


The paper investigates a little‐understood phenomenon and one that is increasingly important for UK policy makers and university administrators. The academic entrepreneurship framework and model is an original and valuable contribution to the study of this phenomenon.



Brennan, M.C. and McGowan, P. (2006), "Academic entrepreneurship: an exploratory case study", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 144-164.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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