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Universities’ third mission and the entrepreneurial university and the challenges they bring to higher education institutions

Arthur Rubens (Department of Management, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida, USA)
Francesca Spigarelli (Universita degli Studi di Macerata, Macerata, Italy)
Alessio Cavicchi (Universita degli Studi di Macerata, Macerata, Italy)
Chiara Rinaldi (Universita degli Studi di Macerata, Macerata, Italy)

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy

ISSN: 1750-6204

Article publication date: 10 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Over the past few decades, higher education institutions (HEIs) have become key players in regional economic development and knowledge transfer, which has led to a third mission for HEIs and the entrepreneurial university. The purpose of this paper is to assess the challenges of HEIs in fulfilling the third mission for economic development and the changing role of being an entrepreneurial university, and the changes that need to be implemented to fulfill this new mission.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors have drawn on current literature to examine academic entrepreneurism and the entrepreneurial university, and how universities are fulfilling their third mission.

Findings

The findings from our review of the literature demonstrated the varied economic and social benefit of universities conducting external third mission/entrepreneurial activities in the community, as well as how the changing role and expectations of universities to become more entrepreneurial, has not only changed the expectations and role of university administrators, faculty and staff but also the business community which they serve. The review also showed the varied challenges for universities in fulfilling the third mission of economic development.

Research limitations/implications

Although ample literature and cases about universities’ third mission of economic development and the new entrepreneurial university (especially with research universities) were available, literature or research was limited on the specific challenges and obstacles faced by administrators, faculty and departments in fulfilling this mission, and few studies recommended changes that needed to be implemented in HEIs to support this new mission.

Practical/implications

The paper supports the potential role that HEIs play in implementing economic development in their communities or region. The paper also highlights some of the necessary resources and policy changes that policymakers and university administrators need to implement to reward and recognize faculty in conducting outreach activities as part of the university’s third mission.

Originality/value

The findings from this study highlight the challenges and barriers for faculty, staff and HEIs in fulfilling the third mission and becoming an entrepreneurial university.

Keywords

Citation

Rubens, A., Spigarelli, F., Cavicchi, A. and Rinaldi, C. (2017), "Universities’ third mission and the entrepreneurial university and the challenges they bring to higher education institutions", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 11 No. 03, pp. 354-372. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEC-01-2017-0006

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited