A multi-level exploration of academic intentions to participate in academic entrepreneurship

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Academic entrepreneurship is playing an increasingly important role in many governments national and regional growth strategies. Drawing on the academic entrepreneurship and regulatory focus theory literature, and applying a multilevel perspective, this thesis explores why university academics intend to engage in commercialisation (spin-off or start-up companies and licensing university research) or engagement (collaborative research, contract research, continuous professional development and contract consulting) activities, and the role contextual factors play in the entrepreneurial process. Using a mixed methods research design, this research explores academic entrepreneurship through a sequential-exploratory, multi-study approach. The first study is exploratory and qualitative, with results highlighting the importance that actors in an academic’s local contextual play in the entrepreneurial process. The findings allowed a testable conceptual model, hypotheses and a survey to be developed. The second study tests the conceptual model using hierarchical regression, based on a survey of 818 academics working in 14 Scottish universities. The results reveal that the stronger an individual’s chronic promotion focus, the stronger their intentions to participate in commercialisation and engagement activities. The stronger their chronic prevention focus, the weaker their intentions to participate in engagement activities. When local contextual direct and indirect effects are considered, leaders and work group colleagues have different influences on an academic’s entrepreneurial intent. The third study explores whether the contextual factors identified affect academics working in STEM and non-STEM disciplines differently. The findings suggest that the individual and local contextual factors are broadly similar for both disciplines. This thesis contributes to a greater understanding of academic entrepreneurship, by drawing on regulatory focus theory to explain how academic leaders and work group colleagues can affect an academic’s entrepreneurial intentions. Finally, the thesis contributes to the regulatory focus theory literature and argues that multi-level research is required to better understand different forms of entrepreneurship.
Date of Award14 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorSamuel Mwaura (Supervisor) & Erik Monsen (Supervisor)

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