This research proposes a framework by which universities can define and implement projects that transform them into entrepreneurial universities. The framework helps decision-makers identify suitable goals and strategies, gather a list of projects to fulfill the goals and strategies and prioritize the projects and form a portfolio.
In the proposed framework, importance–performance matrix, hierarchical strategic planning, Delphi technique, DEMATEL-based ANP and a multi-objective model are used. The mathematical model consists of four objective functions including efficiency, quality and balance maximization and also cost and risk minimization. The proposed framework is applied to Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran, and the results are brought in this paper.
The output of the proposed framework is a portfolio of projects that aims to transform a traditional university into a third-generation one. Although the final portfolio must be customized for different universities, the proposed steps of the framework can be helpful for almost all cases.
The suggested framework is unique and uses both qualitative and quantitative techniques for project portfolio selection.
Golghamat Raad, N. and Akbarpour Shirazi, M. (2020), "A project portfolio selection framework for transforming Iranian universities into entrepreneurial institutions", Journal of Industry - University Collaboration, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 2-21. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIUC-06-2019-0014Download as .RIS
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Copyright © 2020, Nima Golghamat Raad and Mohsen Akbarpour Shirazi
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Iran's economy has relatively low productivity. The annual budget of the country is mostly dependent on the sale of raw materials. Also, transfer of capital and technology from the developed countries to Iran is associated with many difficulties (World Bank, 2017). There is a large number of university graduates looking for a job in Iran, and the market is incapable of creating enough new job opportunities for them. Also, the education system does not teach entrepreneurial and self-employment skills to the students (Almonitor, 2015). Most of the economists believe that the technology-based entrepreneurship and adding knowledge and creativity to businesses and products are the best solutions for improving the economic situation of Iran (Karimi et al., 2010). In the near future, those countries which have proper infrastructure for creating knowledge-based added value will be the main players in the global economy (Vrateovska et al., 2014). Due to the increasing demand for self-employment training, the need for establishing entrepreneurial universities is more than ever before (Alexander and Evgeniy, 2012). The most important and influential producers of knowledge are universities. Commercializing the knowledge of universities has several benefits for the economy. It increases the rate of job creation, improves the competitiveness of the country in the world, stops the brain drain phenomenon in the developing countries’ domestic production, prevents the sale of natural resources in raw form and decreases the outflow of capital for importing technologies (Kalar and Antoncic, 2015). An entrepreneurial University is the place for training expert human resource. These experts should be systematically able to transfer their ideas and thoughts to the society. The society should also be able to use these new ideas. Many of the country's issues and challenges, including security, employment, healthcare, cultural development and social welfare require new and technological ideas urgently. Also, the authorities need scientific and professional solutions for social, economic and environmental problems of the country. University is the best source for obtaining these solutions (Sooreh et al., 2011).
But, developing an entrepreneurial university is a very complex and time-consuming program. In such a situation, failure will be inevitable without a strategic plan and a portfolio selection framework. This study aims to develop a comprehensive framework to help traditional universities move toward third-generation universities. The proposed framework answers two important questions including the following: 1. How to set the strategic goals and priorities? 2. How to define a portfolio of projects and programs to reach strategic goal?
2. Literature review and theoretical framework
Entrepreneurial universities are one of the most important constituents of knowledge-based economies. After the second academic revolution, the third mission was added to teaching and research which were the traditional missions of the university. This new mission is entrepreneurship and the universities that have developed the needed infrastructures for this mission are called entrepreneurial universities. Etzkowitz described the third-generation university as an institution that has many research contracts and strategic partnerships with other organizations and is financially independent (Etzkowitz, 1984). Clark insisted on the concept of innovation as a key feature of the third-generation universities (Clark, 1998). Chrisman added the idea of founding spin-offs by academics, graduates and students to the main concept of the entrepreneurial university (Chrisman, 1995). Dill focused on the commercialization of university researches and suggested university technology transfer (UTT) (Dill, 1995). According to Ropke, an entrepreneurial university should have three features: It should be an entrepreneurial institution, provide its members with knowledge and skills needed for being an entrepreneur and set its relationships with other entities based on the policy of entrepreneurship (Röpke, 1998). Sporn paid attention to the interaction of entrepreneur universities with their environment and determines how they should adapt to the dynamic environmental situation (Sporn, 2001). Poole listed the failure and success factors of the international strategy of an entrepreneurial university (Poole, 2001). Audretsch et al. conducted a comprehensive research about entrepreneurial finance and technology transfer. The study is focused on the role of governmental venture funds, subsidy programs and patent-friendly regulatory. They also discussed the impact of technology transfer offices on university entrepreneurship and regional competitiveness (Audretsch et al., 2016). Zhoa et al. introduced four characteristics that can be seen in all of the entrepreneurial universities (Zhoa, 2004):
Revenue generation through the transfer of knowledge and technology and the sale of patents.
Considerable influence on regional industries and economy.
Adoption of the entrepreneurship ideology among the academics.
Strong and systematic relationship with the industry and government.
O'Shea et al. explored the reasons for the success of some universities in developing and running spin-offs (O'Shea et al., 2007). D'Este et al. researched about the incentives and motivations that can stimulate academics to follow the mission of entrepreneurship. They concluded that the managers should not exclusively focus on the monetary incentives and it is better to consider a wider range of incentives to improve the level of interaction between academia and industry (D'Este and Perkmann, 2011). Jacob et al. claimed that the success of the transformation toward entrepreneurship depends on the national climate and the internal policies of the universities. They mentioned the infrastructural and cultural changes needed for this gradual transformation process. They also pointed out that the universities face a kind of role uncertainty when they start to carry out the third mission. Flexibility and diversity in both macro and micro levels are necessary for solving this issue (Jacob et al., 2003). Kirby listed seven critical barriers to entrepreneurship in universities as follows: (Kirby, 2006)
Relationships are typically impersonal.
Structure of the universities is hierarchical and bureaucratic.
Rules and procedures are constraining and anti-creative.
Organizational culture resists innovation and diversity.
The need for immediate results contradicts the time-consuming nature of becoming entrepreneurial.
Lack of talented human resource.
Lack of a suitable strategic plan and road map.
He also proposed some strategies to overcome the mentioned barriers. These strategies are summarized in Table I:
Guerrero et al. categorized the factors affecting the development of entrepreneurial universities into formal and informal factors. They also proposed a set of indicators and measures to ease monitoring and assessing the transformation process toward entrepreneurship. Table II shows the overall form of the assessment method (Guerreo et al., 2006). According to Nelles & Vorley, five critical elements form the fundamentals of an entrepreneurial university. These elements are shown in Figure 1
Salamzadeh et al. claimed that for transforming to entrepreneurship, universities should revise and improve their processes. The most important processes which must be considered are teaching, research, managerial, logistical, commercialization, selection (for students, university professors and staff), funding and financial, networking and multilateral interaction processes (between students, university professors, staff, industrial researchers, entrepreneurial centres, industries, policy makers and society) (Salamzadeh et al., 2011). Rhoades expanded Clark's theories about entrepreneurial university by relating the considerations of systems analysis and organizational studies (Rhoades, 2017). According to Etzkowitz, becoming an entrepreneurial university takes place in three stages:
University entrepreneur one: The university must determine its strategic direction, start acquiring the needed abilities, develop a facilitative legal framework and set its own priorities.
University entrepreneur two: The research activities of the members must actively get commercialized. Facilitating the technology transfer, enhancing the research corporations, preserving the intellectual properties and supporting the start-ups are also the important tasks of this stage.
University entrepreneur three: The university takes a leading role in innovation, has a tight relationship with the regional industries and government and makes a significant contribution to both regional and national economy (Etzkowitz, 2016). In this research, initial list of projects is created based on the Etzkowitz model.
This study aims to propose a project portfolio selection framework that facilitates the transition toward university entrepreneurship. This framework consists of five stages including the following:
Stage 1: Evaluating the status of the academic entrepreneurship indicators.
Stage 2: Determining the strategies and goals.
Stage 3: Identifying the relationships between the final-level goals and rankings the goals.
Stage 4: Creating a list of candidate projects and programs to meet the objectives.
Stage 5: Creating a portfolio of projects by a multi-objective mathematical model.
3.1 Evaluating the status of the academic entrepreneurship indicators
The two main questions raised at this point are as follows: What indicators should be evaluated? and how should this evaluation be done?
In this research, we evaluate the indicators of Table II which are suggested by Guerrero et al. (Guerreo et al., 2006), by the importance–performance analysis (IPA) which was firstly introduced by Martilla & James (Martilla and James, 1977). IPA is a gap analysis method. Data collection in this technique is very similar to the SERVQUAL technique. IPA is an effective tool for evaluating the competitive position of an organization, identifying development opportunities, designing marketing strategies and providing targeted services. For the first time, this method was used to identify and prioritize the product or service characteristics that the organization should focus on to maximize its customer satisfaction. Through the formation of a two-dimensional matrix its vertical axis is performance (quality) of each feature and its horizontal axis is the importance of that feature in customers' decision-making. Then, a two-dimensional network is created which consists of four areas. Figure 2 shows the importance–performance matrix and corresponded strategies.
The measurement method is as follows: The questionnaires are designed according to the indicators of Table II to evaluate the performance of the university based on each indicator. Validity and reliability of the questionnaires are checked by the experts and Alpha Cronbach test respectively. Also, the importance of the indicators can be determined by one of the multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) methods. After quantifying the performance and importance of the indicators, critical levels must be determined for performance and importance. If the importance degree of an indicator is larger than the critical level, it should be considered a high importance indicator. Otherwise, it will be considered a low importance indicator. The same process should be carried out for the performance dimension. In the next stage, we focus on the indicators which are located in quarter four of the importance–performance matrix. Of course, this does not mean that other indicators should be ignored. These indicators should also be developed based on their own strategies in the importance–performance matrix.
3.2 Determining the strategies and goals
Indicators that are located in the fourth quarter are the best choices for improvement and investment. The universities should set strategies and goals to improve the selected indicators effectively. In this study, the hierarchical strategic programming with zigzag motions is used (Shirazi, 2005). In the literature of strategic management, the goals and strategies are usually presented in a hierarchical structure. However, these structures are usually not completely relevant to one another and their dependency is not clear. Although major studies classify the objectives into long-term, mid-term and short-term, in this study, organizational goals are divided into two main levels as follows: 1. Major goals 2. Operational goals.
Major goals: This includes the goals that the university wants to achieve in the long term. In other words, there is idealism in expressing these goals. For example, the goal is to increase profits, quality, credibility and so on, which are important for the university. In order to achieve the major goals, the university must determine the major strategies eg. the development strategy, diversity strategy and so on.
Operational goals: These goals are usually expressed at different levels of long term, mid term and short term. These goals reflect the expected results of the strategies of the previous level. Operational goals should be quantitative, measurable, realistic, understandable, challenging, hierarchical, achievable, and consistent with other organizational goals. The hierarchical strategic planning with zigzag motion is based on the axiomatic design method and aims to create harmony between the two spaces of strategies and goals at all levels. In the hierarchical strategic planning, the mission and vision of the organization must be determined at first. Then, major organizational goals must be outlined. Then, at least one major strategy must be set for each major goal. At the next level, for the successful implementation of each strategy, at least one goal must be set. These goals should be in line with the higher-level goals. In fact, we move between the goals space and the strategies space with zigzag motions until the goals are specific enough to be met with one or two projects or activities. Figure 3 shows the overall form of the hierarchical strategic planning with zigzag motions.
3.3 Identifying the relationships between the goals and rankings them
The suggested projects and programs for creating and developing an entrepreneurial university are in line with the final-level goals. Therefore, the importance of these projects and programs is a function of the importance of their corresponded goals. Therefore, before listing the proposed projects, the existing relationships between the goals must be detected and the importance of each goal must be determined. In this study, the DEMATEL-based ANP (DANP) method is used to do this.
The DANP method is one of the multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) methods. It computes the ANP super matrix using the DEMATEL communication matrix and calculates the weights of criteria and sub-criteria. In fact, the DANP method is the hybrid form of DEMATEL and ANP. This method has nine steps (Chiu et al., 2013):
Step 1: calculate the direct influence matrix by scores
The relationships between the goals (influence of a goal on other goals) are expressed based on the experts' opinions using a five-point scale (0–4). 0 = no influence, 1 = low influence, 2 = medium influence, 3 = high influence and 4 = very high influence . Thus, the direct influence matrix (D) can be calculated. (Eqn 1)
Step 2: normalizing the direct influence matrix
The normalized direct influence matrix can be obtained using Eqn 2:
Step 3: calculating the total influential matrix (TC)
Step 4: analyze the results
In this step, the summations of each row and column should be calculated separately according to Eqns 5 to 6.
The index represents the sum of the rows and the index represents the sum of the column . The index is obtained from the sum of the row and the column and shows the importance of the criteria . Similarly, the index shows how much the criterion affects the other criteria and gets influenced by them. If is positive, the criterion affects some of the other criteria, otherwise it gets influenced by some of the other criteria. Now we can use DANP for finding the influential weights in each criterion:
Step 5: find the normalized total influential matrix
Step 6: find the normalized form of by dimensions and clusters
Step 7: building an unweighted supermatrix
The transposed form of the matrix is called “unweighted supermatrix” and is shown by W, as in Eqn 12.
Step 8: building a weighted supermatrix
The weighted supermatrix is obtained by the product of the normalized total influential matrix and the unweighted supermatrix (W). (Eqn 13)
Step 9: find the influential weights of the DANP
The weighted supermatrix must be raised to a sufficiently large power Z until it converges and reaches stability. The output of this step is the effective DANP weights. (Eqn 14)
3.4 Creating a list of candidate projects and programs to meet the objectives
The most important issue in defining a project is scope management. The scopes of the proposed projects should be consistent with at least one of the last-level goals set out in Section 3.2. The high-level scope of the project must be outlined in the project charter (according to BMBOK) or the business case (according to Prince2) (PMBOK, 2017) (Prince2, 2017). By specifying the scope of the project, we can see what the project contains or does not contain. It also shows with what goals the project is consistent, on which goals have negative effects and on which ones has no impact.
In this study, the Delphi technique is used to identify and sort the most important projects and programs for entrepreneurship. Although the Delphi technique is not a MCDM method, it can be used before applying these techniques to reach an agreement on the candidate projects. Figure 4 denotes the main steps of this method and their sequence.
In the first stage, the problem statement is identified, and the characteristics of the experts' panel members are determined based on that. Then, the qualified experts are identified and invited to the panel. Regarding the subject of this research, top managers, high-level university staff, faculty members, entrepreneurship experts, managers of the key industries, government officials, spin-off owners and entrepreneur students can be members of the experts' panel.
The second step of the Delphi method is to generate ideas in the field of research. Expert panel members express their views about the questions the researchers ask. By analyzing and refining these ideas and removing duplicates and identical terms, the researcher extracts the list of issues related to the topic of research. The proposed method of this study is to provide the expert panel members with the last-level goals outlined in Section 3.2 and ask them to suggest programs and projects achieve the goals. By editing the suggestions, the initial list of projects will be formed. In the third step, members are asked to express the importance of the items listed in the initial list by linguistic or numerical variables or select some of the most important ones. Then, using MCDM methods such as AHP, or the Q-Sort method, we exclude the projects or programs that are considered unimportant by the members. This process continues until the members reach a consensus on the list of suggested projects. The output of section 3.4 is a list of projects and programs suggested by the experts, in which the importance of each project is also specified.
3.5 Creating a portfolio of projects and programs by a multi-objective mathematical model
The projects with the highest degree of importance are not necessarily the best choices to carry out. In addition to maximizing benefits, the organization should consider other important factors such as risk, balance and budget constraints. In the following points, we propose a multi-objective programming model that can provide an optimal portfolio of projects and programs for moving toward entrepreneurship considering the mentioned factors. Compared to the similar models, this one is simpler and more comprehensive. As the model is simple and its parameters are definite, it can be solved with the typical software and by people who are not familiar with the operation research.
For more simplicity, we can change , and into restrictions. So, the model can be rewritten as follows:
4. Case study (Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran)
Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) is the first and most experienced school of engineering in Iran. Admission to this university is done through the national entrance exam and is considered very competitive. The university has developed nine strategies in three dimensions as follows: the content, structure and environment for becoming a third-generation university (Table III).
As mentioned earlier, these goals are not independent and can have positive or negative effects on each other. The direct influence matrix for these nine goals is shown in Eqn 36. (Based on the expert judgment).
After completing the DANP steps, the weight is obtained for each of the goals. Table IV contains the weights obtained for each of the nine strategies.
Also, to implement each of these nine strategies, there are a number of proposed solutions that can be seen in Table V.
By collecting information about the project costs and the associated risks of them as well as the total budget of the organization and its maximum tolerable risk, it is possible to prioritize the projects and form the project portfolio. The costs and risks of projects can be expressed in deterministic, fuzzy, grey numbers or probabilistic form. Depending on the conditions and type of projects, other constraints can be added to the proposed model of this research. If a part of the projects can be done and another part can be postponed to subsequent periods, continuous variables can be used instead of binary variables. Table VI shows the parameters which are gathered for this case study.
The parameters are replaced in the model and the obtained results are shown in Table VII.
Because the entrepreneurial university (third generation) is one of the core requirements of the knowledge-based development, all universities need to have a comprehensive plan to transform them into entrepreneurial universities at the lowest possible cost and risk. The need for such a plan is more vital in developing countries, such as Iran, due to poor industry and poor university connectivity. This paper suggests a framework that help universities make such a plan. This framework consists of five steps including evaluating the status of the academic entrepreneurship indicators, determining the strategies and goals, identifying the relationships between the goals and rankings them, creating a list of candidate projects and programs to meet the objectives and creating a portfolio of projects and programs by a multi-objective mathematical model. The output of this framework is a portfolio of projects that according to the budget and other university conditions have the highest priority in terms of transforming traditional universities into entrepreneurial universities.
Strategic actions to overcome the barriers to entrepreneurship
|Endorsement||Top managers and high-ranking staff should act as role models|
|Incorporation||Faculty, department and personal plans|
|Implementation||Setting targets and monitoring them|
|Communication||Consulting on the strategies and disseminating them|
|Encouragement and support||Hard support: laboratories, pre-incubators, incubators, science parks, meeting rooms, computing support, office support services and seed corn funding|
|Soft support: training, mentoring and advice, signposting to sources of external support and ongoing technical and management support once the venture is launched|
|Recognition and reward||Fairness, job promotion, etc.|
|Organization||Cross-disciplinary research and teaching groups, educational partnerships, a multidisciplinary Entrepreneurship Centre|
|Promotion||Business plan competitions, entrepreneurship “halls of fame”, Cases, role models|
Assessment model of Guerrero et al.
|Formal factors||University organization and government structure||Mission|
|University entrepreneurship education||Programs|
|Informal factors||University’s attitude toward entrepreneurship||Students|
|Role models and academic reward systems||Role models|
Main strategies of AUT for becoming a third-generation university
|Entrepreneurial university portfolio||Structure||Developing non-physical infrastructures of entrepreneurship (S1)|
|Developing the infrastructures of education, research, technology (S2)|
|Content||Promoting resource efficiency (S3)|
|Encouraging academics to produce knowledge (S4)|
|Becoming the scientific hub of the country in some academic fields (S5)|
|Promoting the level of training courses (S6)|
|Environment||Open communication with industries (S7)|
|International cooperation (S8)|
|Communication with the alumni (S9)|
Normalized weights of the strategies by DANP method
The proposed project portfolio before prioritization
|Developing non-physical infrastructures of entrepreneurship (G1)||Cultural infrastructures (G1-1)||Network of entrepreneurs (P1)|
|Startup events (P2)|
|Information posters about entrepreneurship (P3)|
|Organizational structures (G1-2)||Reducing bureaucracy (P4)|
|Increasing organizational flexibility (P5)|
|Methods of leadership (G1-3)||Training the managers (P6)|
|Entrepreneurship strategic plan (P7)|
|Developing the infrastructures of education, research, technology (G2)||Incubators (P8)|
|Research cores (P9)|
|Conference halls (P10)|
|Venture capital funds (P11)|
|Science and technology park (P12)|
|Industrial consulting centers (P13)|
|Innovation institutes (P15)|
|Intellectual property offices (P16)|
|Technology transfer offices (P17)|
|Promoting resource efficiency (G3)||Management (G3-1)||Proficiency (P18)|
|Relationship with employees (P19)|
|Human resource (G3-2)||Number (P20)|
|Wage and benefits (P21)|
|Recreational facilities (P22)|
|Facilities and equipment (G3-3)||Equipment (P24)|
|Self service (P26)|
|Sports facilities (P27)|
|Technology (G3-4)||Educational (P28)|
|Technical knowledge (P29)|
|Encouraging academics to produce knowledge (G4)||Students (G4-1)||Scholarships and rewards (P30)|
|Admission without entrance test for brilliant students (P31)|
|Paying for researches, conferences and scientific trips (P32)|
|Staff (G4-2)||Financial incentives (P33)|
|Job promotion (P34)|
|Instructors (G4-3)||Degree promotion (P35)|
|Financial incentives (P36)|
|Becoming the scientific hub of the country in some academic fields (G5)||Holding international conferences and competitions (P37)|
|Courses for self-employment|
|Pursuing the programs and strategies of the top universities (P38)|
|Increasing the ratio of teachers to students (P39)|
|Inviting international scholars to speak at the university (P40)|
|Open communication with industries and the government (G6)||Using technical experience of industry (P41)|
|Communication with spin-offs of the university (P42)|
|Joint meetings (P43)|
|Assessing the needs of industry (P44)|
|Incentives for hiring university graduates (P45)|
|Marketing for the services that the university can offer to the industry (P46)|
|Short-term courses for workers and industry executives (P47)|
|Assisting the officials in solving the issues and presenting and implementing plans (P48)|
|Promoting the level of training courses (G7)||World-class contents (P49)|
|Presenting internationally-recognized certificates (P50)|
|Virtual education in different languages (P51)|
|Multimedia education (P52)|
|Teaching skills needed for self-employment (P53)|
|International cooperation (G8)||Joint programs with top universities in the world (P54)|
|International research contracts and agreements (P55)|
|Attending international scientific events (P56)|
|Scholarships and scientific missions for students and instructors (P57)|
|Language courses for business and academic purposes (P58)|
|Communication with the alumni (G9)||Special facilities for alumni to establish spin-offs (P59)|
|Communication of students and graduates (P60)|
|Hiring brilliant alumni as instructors (P61)|
Parameters of the proposed model for the case study
Results of the proposed model for the case study
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