The role of heads of departments in the commercialization of university research

Karl-Heinz Leitner, Sabine Bergner, Robert Rybnicek

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelBegutachtung

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The commercialization of knowledge has become increasingly important for universities worldwide. Today, the acquisition of third-party funds, the filing of patents and the foundation of spin-offs are seen as similarly relevant to other academic activities such as conducting research and teaching. Research has examined how universities can be supported in their transformation into entrepreneurial institutions and shown that the business experience of scientists might foster the commercialization of knowledge. However, research into the role of academic leaders in this process is scant. In this study, we examine how far the business and scientific experience of the head of department impacts the entrepreneurial activities of an entire department team. Our results demonstrate that heads with business experiences positively influence the acquisition of third-party funds and the patent output of the whole department. However, we found that the foundation of spin-offs is negatively affected by these experiences. Our findings have important policy implications and suggest that business experiences should be considered in the assignment of new heads when reorienting universities into entrepreneurial institutions and restructuring university funding. Yet, the business experience of academic leaders is not a panacea and has its limitations.
Seiten (von - bis)353-378
FachzeitschriftJournal of Business Economics
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2021

Research Field

  • Innovation Systems and Digitalisation


  • Entrepreneurial university · University-industry collaboration · Thirdparty funds · Patents · Spin-offs · Business experience


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