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Increasing university entrepreneurialism: qualitative insights from the technology transfer office

Giustina Secundo (Department of Innovation for Engineering, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy)
Christle De Beer (Department of Industrial Engineering, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Felicia M. Fai (Department of Management, University of Bath, Bath, UK)
Cornelius S.L. Schutte (Faculty of Science, Stellenbosch University, Matieland, South Africa)

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Article publication date: 24 June 2019

Issue publication date: 15 October 2019




Successful promotion of academic entrepreneurship is a determining factor in the pursuit of university entrepreneurialism. This paper aims to illustrate how qualitative data on the performance of the technology transfer office (TTO), based on access to intellectual capital (IC) indicators, can be transformed into a metric to provide insights that assist in strategy development for a university moving towards a more entrepreneurial configuration.


The TTO performance metric takes the form of a self-assessment of access to IC indicators, which are determinants of effectiveness. This study involves the use of the metric through the completion of an online survey and follow-up interviews, to collect and analyse the data.


The performance of 34 TTOs in continental Europe and the UK are measured, and insights into the success of promoting academic entrepreneurship were gained. The qualitative data are studied in detail to illustrate how the university can strategically leverage IC to enhance academic entrepreneurship.

Research limitations/implications

This study recommends that the university align the mission statement and organisational structure of the TTO, to enable access to IC. This, in turn, may result in increased academic entrepreneurship activities, which will drive the university towards increased entrepreneurialism.

Practical implications

The interpretation of the qualitative data relating to the performance of the TTO, and which factors influence it, aids in understanding the performance of the entrepreneurial university and illustrates, which strategic interventions can be made.


Understanding the link between IC, academic entrepreneurship (as encapsulated in the performance of the TTO) and the characteristics of the entrepreneurial university is particularly useful for university management decisions.



Secundo, G., De Beer, C., Fai, F.M. and Schutte, C.S.L. (2019), "Increasing university entrepreneurialism: qualitative insights from the technology transfer office", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 253-268.



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