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Title: Academic entrepreneurship in a resource constrained environment
Author: De Silva, Lasandahasi
ISNI:       0000 0004 2729 9727
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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Expectations regarding the contributions of academics to entrepreneurial activity in addition to their primary role of carrying out teaching and research have increased in recent years. Nevertheless, research on academic entrepreneurship has, to date, been carried out mainly in developed nations and there has been little emphasis on developing countries, particularly low income ones. Developing countries, when compared with developed nations, have been reported to face relatively high levels of resource scarcity that involve shortages of skills, finance, physical infrastructure, technology, and institutions needed for innovation and entrepreneurship. This gap in our knowledge leads to the main objective of this study, which is to investigate academic entrepreneurship in a resource constrained environment. Referring to the entrepreneurship and diversification literature, the current study argues that, as a strategy to extract value from a resource constrained environment, academic entrepreneurs may diversify their entrepreneurial engagements, which is named in this research as ‘plural activity’. In order to achieve the main objective, this thesis derives four specific objectives; namely, investigating the ‘plural activities’ of academic entrepreneurs, studying the motivations of academic entrepreneurs, examining the influence of multilevel causal factors on ‘plural activities’, and investigating the impacts of academic entrepreneurship on universities and wider economy. Sequential mixed methods were adopted in three stages; namely, an initial context specific data gathering stage, an on-line survey, and in-depth interviews. Initial context specific data were used to design two subsequent data collection phases. This approach was believed to improve the construct validity of the study. The main purpose of the on-line survey was to obtain a broad understanding of the entrepreneurial engagements of academics, while that of in-depth interviews was to obtain detailed context specific data, required to achieve research objectives. This sequential mixed method design of a survey being followed up by in-depth interviews was also considered to improve the internal validity of this research.The results suggested that entrepreneurial activity was a means of overcoming resource barriers in a resource constrained environment as opposed to resources are a means of becoming entrepreneurial in a resource rich environment. The majority of academic entrepreneurs had overcome resource and opportunity constraints by diversifying their entrepreneurial engagements. ‘Plural activity’ was found to generate synergies between multiple academic entrepreneurial activities. Diversifying into a greater number of different activities was found to generate more synergistic effects than diversifying into a limited number of similar activities. Nevertheless, there remained synergies between those who adopted different diversification strategies. Moreover, academic entrepreneurship was found to enable the overcoming of resource barriers to university teaching and research as well as deliver positive outcomes to universities and wider economy. Furthermore, it was evident that academics were initially motivated by ‘push’ motives and over time the influence of ‘push’ factors declined, while the impact of ‘pull’ motives increased. As a result of a lack of research capabilities of industry and funding for universities, there was a higher mutual interdependence between universities and industry. However, due to the unavailability of supportive mechanisms or formal institutional infrastructure to promote academic entrepreneurship, university-industry interactions were driven by individuals, and thus, were scattered and isolated. Policy implications and future research avenues were considered in conclusion.
Supervisor: Oakey, Raymond; Uyarra, Elvira Sponsor: Eddie Davies Chair of Entrepreneurship and Innovation ; Manchester Business School
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Academic Entrepreneurship ; Entrepreneurship ; Strategy ; Diversification ; Plural-activity ; Motivation ; Dynamism ; Resource Constrained Environment ; Higher Education ; Mixed Methods ; Critical Realism ; Impacts of Academic Entrepreneurship ; Synergistic Effects