University support and the creation of technology and non-technology academic spin-offs

Research paper by Michele Meoli, Silvio Vismara

Indexed on: 14 Mar '16Published on: 09 Mar '16Published in: Small Business Economics


The literature on academic entrepreneurship typically assumes that creating a supportive environment in a university can result in a higher rate of establishment of academic spin-offs in a relatively straightforward manner. In contrast, we argue that, at times, academics choose to launch an independent company vis-à-vis pursuing alternative business engagement activities when their university provides inadequate support. Drawing from hybrid entrepreneurship and necessity entrepreneurship, we model the individual decision to spin-off as a reaction to the organizational characteristics of the parent university, rather than to its outcome. Through a longitudinal study of 559 spin-offs from 85 Italian universities from 1999 to 2013, we find that although stronger administrative support from the parent university leads academics to create more technology spin-offs, a U-shaped relationship instead exists between the number of administrative staff within a university and the rate of establishment of non-technology spin-offs. When the level of administrative staff is too low or too high relative to the fitted amount estimated using several university-level factors, academic staff reacts by establishing firms to achieve improved cash and human resource management.