Why is entrepreneurial university important? 

Why is entrepreneurial university important? 

The term entrepreneurial university was popularized by Etzkowitz (1983), to describe the phenomenon of universities’ efforts in Europe in utilizing their resources to obtain funding resources, which at that time also experienced conditions similar to those experienced by many developing countries today, namely the lack of government assistance.  Some research on entrepreneurial universities defines entrepreneurial universities as “academic institutions that promote economic development and the “capitalization of knowledge.” (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 2000).  

The entrepreneurial orientation in the management of universities that represents the existence of an ‘academic revolution‘ (Etzkowitz, 2003), further created the mission of the three universities, namely entrepreneurship in the framework of social and economic development, to complement the previous two missions, namely teaching education and research. The existence of this entrepreneurial mission, in addition to having benefits for universities, also contributes to national economic development, through job creation. As Rothaermel, Agung, and Jiang (Rothaermel et al., 2007) stated, entrepreneurial university is a natural evolution of a university system that emphasizes economic development as an extension of traditional mandates, namely education and research. 

Universities have the opportunity to transform into entrepreneurial universities because of the need and opportunities to generate value from research activities carried out within the university. In addition to research, commercialization of activities can also be done through the creation of new ventures by universities (spinning off companies) (Franklin et al., 2001).   

Although the opportunity to transform is wide open, the transformation into an entrepreneurial university demands fundamental changes in terms of management, and is not an easy thing because of the characteristics of public university which in terms of funding generally depends on subsidies provided by the government.  In addition, university management systems developed to manage academic integrity are less appropriately applied to manage commercialization, e.g. commercialization of research activities is not accommodated in traditional research management (Wright, 2007). Another challenge is that public university does not have the instinct to compete because it has only faced competition with domestic private universities, which tend to be less in demand by the public, compared to public university. In fact, in the current conditions of the global education market, competition to obtain the title of the best faculty, the best university, and the best students, is tight. Competition in the higher education industry has also increased along with the development of online learning (Teece & Guile, 2013).    This challenge is even more complicated because of the concerns of the academic community that business orientation will damage the intellectual traditions that exist within the university.  

Given the complexity of the challenges faced, leadership within the university plays an important role. Cohen and March (Cohen & James, 1974) states that the role of university leadership can be grouped into three aspects, namely administrators, political leaders, and entrepreneurs (who interact with investors or funding sources, customers, and suppliers). Leih and Teece (Leih & Teece, 2016) stated that good university management involves leadership strategies, especially in creating and managing campus ecosystems to encourage national and global regional economic development. 

Transforming into an entrepreneurial university is a strategic decision. Therefore, leadership in the management of universities plays an important role. The policies made by the leadership will have a wide impact. For example, rigid financial management policies result in no new initiatives on services that will then have an impact on the university’s failure to respond to existing opportunities. There has not been much research that examines the role of leadership in universities to make universities more successful in the context of entrepreneurial universities (Leih & Teece, 2016).   

One of the roles of leadership is to take strategic decisions accurately and quickly, among others in formulating program planning and priorities in an effort to become an entrepreneurial university. External conditions that are full of turbulence in the era of disruption as it is today, the challenges faced by university leaders in formulating planning become more and more severe. Based on the description mentioned above, the success of a college to transform into an entrepreneurial university is strongly influenced by the ability of leaders to identify internal and external conditions of the organization in order to compile the planning and priorities of the program to be carried out. 


Cohen, M. D., & James, G. (1974). March. 1974. Leadership and ambiguity: The American college president. In New York et al.: McGraw-Hill

Etzkowitz, H. (1983). Entrepreneurial scientists and entrepreneurial universities in American academic science. Minerva, 21(2), 198–233. 

Etzkowitz, H., & Leydesdorff, L. (2000). The dynamics of innovation: from National Systems and “Mode 2” to a Triple Helix of university–industry–government relations. Research Policy, 29(2), 109–123. 

Franklin, S. J., Wright, M., & Lockett, A. (2001). Academic and surrogate entrepreneurs in university spin-out companies. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 26(1–2), 127–141. 

Leih, S., & Teece, D. (2016). Campus leadership and the entrepreneurial university: A dynamic capabilities perspective. Academy of Management Perspectives, 30(2), 182–210. 

Rothaermel, F. T., Agung, S. D., & Jiang, L. (2007). University entrepreneurship: a taxonomy of the literature. Industrial and Corporate Change, 16(4), 691–791. 

Rothaermel, F. T., & Thursby, M. (2005). University–incubator firm knowledge flows: assessing their impact on incubator firm performance. Research Policy, 34(3), 305–320. 

Teece, D., & Guile, B. (2013). The real winners of the coming revolution in higher education. Forbes

Wright, M. (2007). Academic entrepreneurship in Europe. Edward Elgar Publishing. 

Nurturing knowledge for academic life

You May Also Like


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *