Looking At Academic Entrepreneurs

What best encourages entrepreneurship in an academic environment? According to a recently published paper, life scientists at major research universities are more likely to enter the marketplace when their colleagues have done so. In crediting this entrepreneurial climate within individual schools and departments, the study, reported in Administrative Science Quarterly (34:110-31, March 1989), concludes “that institutions cannot easily engineer entrepreneurship” through formal organizational structures. However, principal author Karen Seashore Louis, an organizational sociologist at the University of Minnesota, did find that entrepreneurial scientists are likely. to be drawn to institutions that harbor other entrepreneurs and academic co-workers tend to acquire similar values about entrepreneurship. Based on two surveys done in 1985, the study finds the atmosphere distinctly entrepreneurial at six institutions: Harvard; MIT; Baylor University; the University of Washington; Yale; and the University of California, Berkeley.

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