Industry and leadership experiences of the heads of departments and their impact on the performance of public universities

Robert Rybnicek, Karl-Heinz Leitner, Lisa Baumgartner, Julia Plakolm

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelBegutachtung


Purpose This study seeks to identify whether the prior industry experience (IE) or industry leadership experience (ILE) of the head might influence the department´s publication output, the ability to acquire external research funds or its entrepreneurial activities (e.g. the commercialization of research results through patents). Design/methodology/approach The study is based on data from 208 Austrian university departments and combines data from different sources (CVs of the heads of departments, commercial register, funding data and publication data). Findings The results show a positive relationship between ILE and the patent output of the departments as one indicator for the commercialization of research activities. Low positive effects of IE on the extent of third-party funding were also found. Furthermore, the scientific experience of the head of department has a positive influence on the publication output of the whole department. Practical implications The findings suggest that the scientific ability of researchers should be key when selecting the head of a department, due to the fact that scientific performance is still essential for most of these units. However, when universities seek to focus more strongly on other, for example, entrepreneurial activities, then additional competencies come into play. As the actual focus of universities is currently subject to change, former IE and ILE will become increasingly more important and the heads of departments will play a decisive role in the transition towards becoming an entrepreneurial university. Therefore, universities are well advised to integrate these experiences in the job specifications and to establish processes that facilitate the change from an industrial to a university job or which allow `double lives´ in university and industry. Originality/value Previous studies have mostly investigated the role of the scientific experience of academic leaders in the research performance of their institution in later decades. To the best of the authors´ knowledge, this studyis the first to examine the actual relevance of previous entrepreneurial experiences of heads of departments to the departments´ research performance, the ability to acquire external research funds or their entrepreneurial activities.
Seiten (von - bis)3321-3345
FachzeitschriftManagement Decision
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2019

Research Field

  • Innovation Systems and Digitalisation


  • entrepreneurial university; collaboration; third-party funds; leadership experience; industry experience


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