The micro-institutional dynamics of entrepreneurship in the university
College of Business, Public Policy, and Law
School of Business and Economics
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AbstractThis study explores how micro-institutional dynamics shape the entrepreneurial propensity of academics in the university context. The study was motivated by the need for greater understanding of the micro-foundations of the entrepreneurial university, and the potentially significant role of micro-level dynamics in the emergence and proliferation of entrepreneurial behaviour in academia. The study employs a qualitative and comparative case-study methodology in one Irish and one Belgian university, and extends understanding of the cognitive infrastructure which underpins the entrepreneurial university by identifying and analysing a number of mechanisms through which attitudes towards entrepreneurship are shaped at the micro-level. The study describes the manner in which locally embedded institutional logic shaped the perceived desirability and feasibility of entrepreneurial behaviour through role identities, means-ends assumptions, and guiding principles of organisation and behaviour. In so doing, the study advances a framework of findings that shows the emergence and proliferation of an entrepreneurial orientation in the university to be underpinned by micro-institutional dynamics which both enable and constrain entrepreneurial cognition and action. By demonstrating the influence of embedded role frames, local dynamics of legitimation, the socialisation and reinforcement of efficacy forming assumptions, and institutional trust dynamics, the study finds that local cultural-cognitive arrangements are of much importance to the emergence and proliferation of entrepreneurial behaviour in the academy. The study reveals that the identified mechanisms are of great significance to the emergence, or non-emergence of the entrepreneurial university, as the transformation of the "inner logic" (Etzkowitz 2003, p.109) of the institution is shown to be subject to the "gritty, messy, details of each university's complex reality" (Clark 2001, p.12). In so doing, the study contributes to a number of important debates within the university based entrepreneurship literature, and extends understanding of how institutional structures and dynamics constrain or enable entrepreneurial cognition and action in the university context.