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Barriers to entrepreneurial growth: an empirical study on university spin‐offs in China

Yuan Zhou (School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)
Guannan Xu (School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)
Jun Su (School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)
Tim Minshall (Centre for Technology Management, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

Journal of Science and Technology Policy in China

ISSN: 1758-552X

Article publication date: 11 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

Literature shows that university spin‐offs (USOs) have idiosyncratic strengths in comparison to other new firms; however, evidence also shows that Chinese USOs have a low survival rate, and only a small percent of them can grow into sustainable businesses. The purpose of this paper is to conduct an empirical study to inquire about the variable growth barriers to Chinese USOs, in order to address two major research questions of this paper: what are the major growth barriers, and how significant they are; and what supports should university and government provide to eliminate those barriers?

Design/methodology/approach

In the first place, this paper attempts to explore the research questions through literature review and pilot interviews, based on which, a questionnaire for a survey was developed. Then, this study then attempts to address the research questions through a nation‐wide survey in 2009 across 69 national university science parks.

Findings

This paper finds that corporate governance issues, managerial concerns, and lack of infrastructure support are three major categories of barriers that thwart the growth of USOs in China. In addition, this paper also identified the support that is expected from universities and government agencies in order to cope with the barriers.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to theory in three ways. First, it tests and validates some existing conceptual frameworks concerned with the growth barriers to USOs. Second, it sheds light on the specific growth concerns of Chinese USOs and identifies three kinds of barriers. Further, this study provides evidence for future policy making regarding USOs and university technology transfer activities in China. This research will be of interest to policy makers, academic entrepreneurs, and university administrators.

Keywords

Citation

Zhou, Y., Xu, G., Su, J. and Minshall, T. (2011), "Barriers to entrepreneurial growth: an empirical study on university spin‐offs in China", Journal of Science and Technology Policy in China, Vol. 2 No. 3, pp. 277-294. https://doi.org/10.1108/17585521111167289

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited