The pace of academic research into entrepreneurship has recently begun showing signs of increased interest and activity, according to the report "University entrepreneurship: a taxonomy of the literature" released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
The report surveys and synthesizes the entire field of university entrepreneurship research over the past 25 years by analyzing all the academic journal articles published in the time period in great detail, and it derives an integrative framework to guide future research. University entrepreneurship denotes entrepreneurial activities of research universities, including, but not limited to:
- patenting and licensing;
- creating incubators, science parks and university spin-outs; and
- investing equity in start-ups, among other indicators.
The report reveals that 173 articles have been published in 28 academic journals by 232 scholars over the 25-year period 1981-2005. However, the report by researchers Frank T. Rothaermel, Shanti D. Agung and Lin Jiang, all of the Georgia Institute of Technology, shows that 127 of these articles were published in the six-year period 2000-2005, and a full 69 percent of these articles are authored by just 65 of these scholars.
This increase in research – both domestically and abroad – largely corresponds to the growth of entrepreneurship education in universities around the world and, in particular, passage of the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980, which provided universities with incentives to patenting scientific breakthroughs accomplished with federal funding. Additional factors include the rise in the pool and thus mobility of scientists and engineers, and important technological breakthroughs in computing, biotechnology, and, more recently, nanotechnology.
As a result, since the early 1980s, U.S. universities have greatly increased their entrepreneurial activities. Four major research streams emerge in this area of study: 1) entrepreneurial research university, 2) productivity of technology transfer offices, 3) new firm creation, and 4) environmental context including networks of innovation.
Because the growing literature on university entrepreneurship is in such a short time period, until now researchers have not reviewed its content in a systematic and comprehensive fashion.