The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to provide a critical assessment of the literature on business incubation effectiveness and second, to submit a situated theoretical perspective on how business incubation management can provide an environment that supports the development of incubatee entrepreneurs and their businesses.
The paper provides a narrative critical assessment of the literature on business incubation effectiveness. Definitional issues, performance aspects and approaches to establishing critical success factors in business incubation are discussed. Business incubation management is identified as an overarching factor for theorising on business incubation effectiveness.
The literature on business incubation effectiveness suffers from several deficiencies, including definitional incongruence, descriptive accounts, fragmentation and lack of strong conceptual grounding. Notwithstanding the growth of research on this domain, understanding of how entrepreneurs and their businesses develop within the business incubator environment remains limited. Given the importance of relational, intangible factors in business incubation and the critical role of business incubation management in orchestrating and optimising such factors, it is suggested that theorising efforts would benefit from a situated perspective.
The identification of specific shortcomings in the literature on business incubation highlights the need for more systematic efforts towards theory building. It is suggested that focusing on the role of business incubation management from a situated learning theory perspective can lend itself to a more profound understanding of the development process of incubatee entrepreneurs and their firms. Theoretical propositions are offered to this effect, as well as avenues for future research.
Thanks are due to the ESRC for supporting the project on which this work is based (ES/J001538/1). The authors would also like to thank the anonymous referees, as well as Professor Harry Matlay for his comments on an earlier version of this paper.
Theodorakopoulos, N., K. Kakabadse, N. and McGowan, C. (2014), "What matters in business incubation? A literature review and a suggestion for situated theorising", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 602-622. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSBED-09-2014-0152
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