Project

Academic entrepreneurship

Goal: The objective is to study academic entrepreneurship as a social and transformational process. We will follow university students and researchers in real-time in their paths towards academic entrepreneurship.

Methods: interviews, action research, survey, qualitative methods, focus groups, ethnography

Date: 1 September 2016 - 31 August 2020

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Ulla Hytti
added a research item
Purpose- This paper investigates how academic teachers engage in identity work and make sense of entrepreneurship and academia in an entrepreneurship training programme. Design/methodology/approach-By employing a sensemaking approach, the paper inductively analyses materials from a business idea development camp organised for academic teachers. Findings-In collective sensemaking during the camp, non-academic facilitators strongly influenced the reflection-inexperience via normative ideas of entrepreneurship and their othering of entrepreneurship from academic work. In their post-camp individual essays, the academic teachers reflect-on-experience and draw parallels between entrepreneurship and academic work constructing sameness. Research limitations/implications-Longitudinal research is needed in identity work and sensemaking among academic teachers in relation to entrepreneurship. Practical implications-Universities need to offer arenas for teachers and other faculty to support identity work and sensemaking. Originality/value-This study generates new understanding of how academic teachers engage in identity work and make sense of entrepreneurship in training when interacting with others. It underscores the importance of time needed for reflection-on-action.
Päivi Siivonen
added 3 research items
In this chapter we explore the interplay between marketization and entrepreneurship education in English Higher Education. In the empirical part we undertake a critical discourse analysis of two prominent policy texts: The Department Business Industry and Skills (DBIS, 2016) White Paper ‘Success as a knowledge economy’ and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA, 2018) policy document: ‘Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education: a guidance for UK higher education providers’. Our analysis illustrates how the entrepreneurship policy agenda is enacted in English higher education policy. We show that this exists in parallel to dominant policy levers measuring the quality and impact of educational provision aimed towards enhancing graduate outcomes. Entrepreneurship continues to be a ‘leitmotif’ rather than a central force in framing the private and public economic value that English higher education institutions generate. Unlike employability it has not become a signature tune of New Public Management policy levers that help mobilize, legitimate and sustain the reform project of marketization.
Focusing on academic entrepreneurship in the university context, the authors explore how researchers, teachers, students, academic managers and administrators make sense of entrepreneurship and of the paradoxes and contradictions involved. This edited book (15 chapters) investigates how these diverse entrepreneurial actors and their stakeholders interpret and analyse entrepreneurial activities within the university ecosystem.
Full chapter online at publisher’s website https://www.elgaronline.com/view/edcoll/9781800370128/9781800370128.00008.xml
Päivi Siivonen
added a research item
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the construction of master narratives related to age, gender and entrepreneurship in the context of entrepreneurship education (EE) in Finnish higher education (HE). This is important as master narratives create and limit our understanding of entrepreneurship. Design/methodology/approach The data comprises 30 student interviews generated in one multidisciplinary Finnish university. The data were analyzed using narrative positioning analysis to examine what kinds of master narratives are (re)constructed in relation to age and entrepreneurship by Finnish university students and how gender intertwines with age in the construction of entrepreneurship. Findings Three aged and gendered master narratives were identified: (1) youthful, masculine, startup/growth entrepreneurship; (2) middle-aged feminine, expert entrepreneurship and (3) modest, feminine, senior entrepreneurship. The paper makes visible aged and gendered master narratives and cultural norms related to entrepreneurship in the context of EE and HE. Authors argue that the youthful, masculine startup/growth entrepreneurship is the hegemonic master narrative in the context of EE in Finnish HE. Femininity is mostly excluded from this master narrative. Originality/value The paper contributes to critical literature on entrepreneurship as an aged as well as gendered phenomenon in the context of EE and HE. So far research on entrepreneurship as an aged and gendered phenomenon in EE and in the context of HE has been virtually non-existent. Moreover, the theoretical and methodological focus on master narratives in entrepreneurship and EE literature is novel. The master narratives identified in the study show that HE students are not addressed equally in relation to entrepreneurship, but aged and gendered hierarchies are sustained.
Päivi Eriksson
added a research item
This case study examines how top academic managers make sense of entrepreneurship at the university. Based on semiotic analysis, the findings outline three management narratives. The entrepreneurial narrative emphasizes management by experience, the humanistic narrative focuses on management by networks and the development narrative highlights management by vision. Unpacking the dynamics of each narrative, our analysis sheds light on the conflicted role of academic managers at a crossroads between traditional academia and entrepreneurial management.
Ulla Hytti
added a research item
This Research Agenda highlights the main features of entrepreneurial university research over the two decades since the concept was first introduced, and examines how technological, environmental and social changes will affect future research questions and themes. It revisits existing research that tends to adopt either an idealised or a sceptical view of the entrepreneurial university, arguing for further investigation and the development of bridges between these two strands
Ulla Hytti
added 2 research items
The purposes of this Special Issue in the Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Research on “Filling in the Blanks: “Black Boxes” in Enterprise/Entrepreneurship Education” were therefore to explore four broad topic areas that, we believe, have been overlooked and thus received less attention and interest from entrepreneurial education scholars. The articles in this special issue provide many new insights into: how the field of EEE has progressed; how and why the context of EEE influences entrepreneurial learning; the value of a value creation pedagogy, and, the importance of deconstructing our taken-for-granted assumptions and practices and reconstructing these efforts into new imaginative creations. Half-filled. Yet, many of the questions about entrepreneurship education that were identified for this special issue remain unaddressed, such as those questions seeking linkages to the literature on education and learning. Un-filled.
This article offers reflections based on the special issue on unsettling entrepreneurship education (EEP 3(3)) in which contributions have resisted the tendency to see students as consumers with the ‘right’ to take part in entrepreneurship education (EE) so as to effectively shape their enterprising selves. Here we resume our editorial discussions of what unsettling entrepreneurship education could mean for us – as entrepreneurship researchers and as teachers – and seek to mark out new directions both for research and education by reflecting upon ethical perspectives, identity work, and how EE can be seen to create an affective and emotional workspace. These aspects not only invite us to ask new research questions, but may also challenge our position as teachers in EE and invite us to reflect upon our view of students. To frame the need of continuous reflection, when navigating the terrain of EE in neoliberal society, we both take off and arrive in the current Covid-19 pandemic and suggest that this crisis can teach us something as valuable as ‘standing still’, which helps us all to reconsider what kind of entrepreneurial society that we build together with our students in entrepreneurship education.
Eeva Aromaa
added a research item
Julkaisussa tarkastellaan yliopistoyhteisön jäsenten käsityksiä ja kokemuksia akateemisesta yrittäjyydestä ja tästä muutoksesta.
Päivi Eriksson
added 3 research items
The article explores the question of how to teach and learn innovation in higher education institutions. A case study from Finland, a world leader in innovation rankings, shows how a practice-oriented model for learning 'innovation practice' was developed and implemented at the business school of the University of Eastern Finland. The case study shows how university-level business degree teaching can be attuned to learning innovation through experiential learning and real-life projects with companies and other organisations. The results are encouraging. The understanding of innovation has accelerated when measured by course feedback. Also, business students' interest in entrepreneurial action has increased within and outside coursework.
This paper focuses on the co-operation between entrepreneurs and angel investors that extends over several years. More specifically, we investigate the non-financial contributions that a group of business angels (BAs) provide to a group of entrepreneurs. BAs are private individuals who use their personal wealth to directly invest in business ventures. The value that a BA can add is not limited to finances; non-financial contributions are also appreciated by investees.
This article explores the university spin-off financing process through the experiences of the managers who act as surrogate entrepreneurs in these companies. Based on narrative interviews, managers’ experiences of the financing process were analysed through a meta-micro narrative approach. The findings highlight how managers’ micro-narratives, based on local understandings of the values, roles and contributions of investors during different funding cycles, construct alternatives to the ‘ideal’ funding process represented by the meta-narrative. The findings contribute to the discussion of entrepreneurial and spin-off finance by illuminating the entrepreneurs’ perspective. Keywords: entrepreneurial finance; university spin-off; surrogate entrepreneur; spin-off manager; meta-narrative; micro-narrative.
Ulla Hytti
added 2 research items
This special issue confronts taken-for-granted views on entrepreneurship education (EE), raises critical questions both about EE and how it is taught, and allows investigations of the potential dark sides of entrepreneurship and EE. The contributions in this issue challenge our teaching positions and evoke a pedagogical approach to invention where curiosity, cocreation, though-provoking questions can follow.
This chapter introduces a course organized as part of the transferable skills curricula of the graduate school programme. The course is unique in applying the experiential learning method in a short PhD course. The participating PhD students come from different disciplines in the seven faculties at the University of Turku. The course provides an introduction to entrepreneurial thinking and action. It covers a ten-hour learning camp and a two-hour wrap-up session after the camp, as well as related pre-readings. Between the sessions, the participants write a reflective learning diary. Based on our analysis of the learning diaries and observations during the camp, the students’ learning outcomes vary between (i) learning about entrepreneurship, (ii) recognizing own learning needs, (iii) understanding the role of action and (iv) team in entrepreneurship, (v) transforming problems into solutions and (vi) doing identity work. The chapter underlines the need for subsequent reflection as necessary for learning. Keywords Post-graduate level, academics, experiential learning, lean canvas, learning camp, reflection
Päivi Siivonen
added a research item
This article explores university students’ constructions of the ideal student at present-day university, that emphasises student-as-consumer culture and employability rather than education as a virtue in itself. The research is based on thematic narrative accounts (n = 67) generated in a generalist field in one regional Finnish university. We apply a narrative-discursive approach to analyse how ‘traditional’ young students (n = 34) and ‘non-traditional’ mature students (n = 33) position themselves in relation to the ideal good student in a present-day university and in relation to their university studies. Moreover, we examine some of the consequences of such positionings for the students themselves. Our analysis indicates that the present-day university student is constructed in line with the ideal student of the neoliberal order and student-as-consumer culture. However, whereas mature students positioned themselves as customers and were comfortable with the demands of today’s university for self-directedness and self-responsibility, younger students positioned themselves as ‘school pupils’ and were critical about being left on their own without adequate support. The study suggests that the terms ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ make differences related to age and different kinds of student positionings visible and, thus, also possible to reconstruct the ideals and normalities of the present-day neoliberal university.
Päivi Siivonen
added a research item
In this ethnographic research, we explore the entrepreneurial narratives performed by entrepreneurs (from outside academia) as desirable identity-building models for Finnish university students during an Entrepreneurship Week course. We also reflect on the accessibility of these identity models for students in terms of gender, class, and education. Our analysis shows that, although the entrepreneurs were positioned as role models for all students, through performances of masculine entrepreneurial identities with certain kinds of special talents and social divisions between groups (i.e., female entrepreneurs, wageworkers, and researchers in ivory towers), it was apparent that not all university students are entrepreneurial types. In addition, the performed narratives challenged the traditional interpretations of what it means to be an academically educated graduate in working life (e.g., in terms of upward mobility). We conclude that Entrepreneurship Week was more about training an entrepreneurial workforce than acquiring skills needed in business. Our study provides a critical perspective both on how neoliberal governance operates in entrepreneurship education and on what kinds of entrepreneurial identities future higher education graduates should possess. We suggest that academics should take an active role in creating more inclusive narratives and identity-building models for academic entrepreneurship.
Päivi Siivonen
added a research item
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to critically investigate how collective identity is constructed and regulated by board members and other active members of student entrepreneurship societies (ESs). Design/methodology/approach A discursive analysis focusing on collective identity construction and regulation based on focus group discussions in two student-led Finnish ESs affiliated with higher education institutions (HEIs). Findings ES members construct and regulate collective entrepreneurial identity based on a shared narrative of entrepreneurship and the affective state of positive energy and thinking, i.e. “positive buzz.” Being entrepreneurial was constructed as having the right kind of mentality to cope with uncertain and rapidly changing working life and to break free of old moulds of working. The shared narrative was coherent, and critical reflection on the values or risks of entrepreneurship was mainly silenced. Research limitations/implications As ESs are a relatively new phenomenon future research could explore ESs in different cultural and regional contexts and compare the identity construction and regulation of ES student members and non-members. Practical implications Strong collective identity and sense of commitment to doing things together may mitigate the pressures of being entrepreneurial and taking charge of one’s life. Social implications Educational practice and research could benefit from better understanding of the informal context in which entrepreneurship education takes place. Originality/value The paper contributes to the relatively new research stream on ESs as student-led entrepreneurial organizations in HEIs. The research demonstrates how ES members participate in constructing a collective and coherent identity that is regulated by shared values and a positive state of mind. This study extends the understanding of ESs from the functional perspective to viewing them as a social community. It contributes to the definition of ESs and the self-understanding of ES actors.
Ulla Hytti
added a research item
Employability is an increasing concern for university students. Our survey set out to examine university students’ perceptions of their employability and the ways in which these perceptions relate to positions that subsequently connect students to working life: students’ self-representational position or “ability self”, and students’ life-historical positions such as chosen field of study, phase of degree and working life experience. The participants comprised a sample of students (N = 1819) from two Finnish universities, representing diverse fields of study. It was found that apart from the field of study, the perceived proximity to graduation and working life was associated with the perception of employability. Furthermore, a set of self-attributed capabilities was associated with students’ perceptions of employability, particularly extroversion, ambitious competitiveness, mental strength and the desired characteristics of a good employee; however, the attribution of academic skills showed opposing effects. It was concluded that both self-representational and live-historical positions are part of the construction of students’ optimism regarding their employability.
Päivi Siivonen
added 2 research items
Talouteen ja työelämään perustuvat tavoitteet ovat suomalaisissa yliopistoissa yhä määräävämpiä. Yrittäjyys ja yrittäjämäisyys on yliopistojen toimintaa ja akateemista työtä ohjaava uusi toimintatapa. Suorituskeskeisyys, välineellisyys ja yritysmaailman mallit ovat tehneet yliopistoista keskenään kilpailevia tuotantolaitoksia, jotka suoltavat markkinoille ”tuotteita” tutkintoina ja julkaisuina yltääkseen rankinglistojen huippujen joukkoon.
Artikkelissa tarkastellaan yliopisto-opiskelijoiden identiteettien rakentumista tilanteessa, jossa taloudelliset päämäärät ovat muokanneet yliopistojen toimintaa ja arvoja. Tulkitsimme 28 yliopisto-opiskelijan haastattelua siitä näkökulmasta, kuinka he asemoivat itsensä suhteessa akateemisuuden, työllistettävyyden ja yrittäjyyden moraalisiin järjestyksiin ja rakensivat samalla identiteettiään tulkitessaan koulutuspolkuaan ja siirtymää työelämään. Käytimme analyysimenetelmänä identiteetin kolmiulotteista positiointianalyysiä moraalisten järjestysten identifioinnin ohella. Analyysin tuloksena erotimme kolme identiteettipositiota. 1) Kun yliopisto-opiskelijat jäsensivät itseään, koulutuspolkuaan ja siirtymää työelämään akateemisuuden viitekehyksessä, he asemoivat itsensä asiantuntijoiksi, joille yliopistotutkinto merkitsi odotuksia nousujohteisesta urasta työelämässä. 2) Kun omaa polkua jäsennettiin työllistettävyyden viitekehyksessä ja monitaitoisen positiosta käsin, katsottiin, että akateemisten hyveiden ohella tai jopa asemesta opiskelijoilla tulisi olla henkilökohtaisia taitoja ja asenteita, kuten tiimityötaitoja, jotka lisäävät heidän kilpailukykyisyyttään epävarmoilla työmarkkinoilla. 3) Analyysissä tunnistimme myös akateemisen yrittäjän position, josta käsin yrittäjyys nähtiin itselle todennäköisenä, vaikkakaan ei kovin toivottuna uravaihtoehtona.
Ulla Hytti
added 3 research items
Sivistysyliopisto ja yrittäjyysyliopisto eivät ole vastakkaisia tavoitteita. Yrittäjyyden edistäminen yliopistoissa kestävästi edellyttää yliopistotoimijoilta kriittisyyttä ja refleksiivisyyttä.
The aim of this study was to examine what sort of ability expectations university students have about the requirements of working life, and how the perception of these expectations relate to students’ perceptions of their own employability. The participants comprised a sample of students (N = 1819) from two Finnish universities, representing diverse fields of study. They were asked to describe themselves according to a set of abilities and to then indicate those abilities that would be particularly important for them in the labour market. It was found that being stable and getting along with others were the most commonly considered generic capabilities for coping in working life. Furthermore, those university students who identified entrepreneurial skills and extroversion as predominant ability requirements were prone to have relatively pessimistic perceptions of their employability possibilities. Accordingly, the results of the study suggest that students’ views of their expected abilities tend to shape their perceptions of their employment prospects, particularly with regard to entrepreneurial skills.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine to what extent Finnish university students endorse entrepreneurial intent and the ways in which they position themselves in relation to entrepreneurship according to their self-perceived abilities or “ability self”. Design/methodology/approach The study was conducted by means of an e-survey, and the participants comprised the sample of students ( n =1,819) from two Finnish universities, representing diverse fields of study. Findings It was found that a great majority of the students showed a relatively low intent to become an entrepreneur. The perception of abilities, such as innovativeness and ambitiousness-competitiveness, was positively related with entrepreneurial intent, whereas the perception of academic abilities and “conventional” employee skills indicated inverse associations. Social implications The findings suggest that in terms of self-perceived abilities, entrepreneurship in an academic context is perceived as a rather restricted category to which only a few specific individuals have access. Accordingly, there is a certain tension between the tenets of entrepreneurship and corresponding abilities, and the ethos of universities and related high-valued abilities such as theoreticality and criticality. Originality/value Although employability and entrepreneur intent have been widely studied, little is known about students’ identification with entrepreneurship according to their ability perceptions. The present study contributes to the existing body of knowledge on university students’ “internal employability” that involves students’ self-assurance and views of work-related relevance with regard to supposed abilities.
Katri Komulainen
added a research item
This study sets out to investigate the university students’ perceptions of their current and expected ‘ability selves’ and the contribution of such perceptions to students’ views of their own employability. The participants consisted of a group of male and female students (N = 104) who were asked to describe their present and anticipated abilities and to respond to a set of statements describing self-perceived employability. The students highlighted social aptness, extroversion and enterprise skills in particular as features related to ability selves in current discussions of working life. These interpretations were subsequently related to the optimism they had about their own employability. ‘Ability selves’ seem to play a role in the multifaceted process of subjective confidence formation regarding one’s employment prospects after graduation.
Päivi Eriksson
added a research item
This study utilised Weick’s sensemaking framework to understand academic entrepreneurship as a social process. This paper presents an analysis of the sensemaking process of a group of scientists, assisted by a university business advisor, who aimed to establish a university spin-off company. The case study shows how the scientists failed to construct a new sense of commercialisation in their business development project. Analysing personal interviews with the scientists, this study investigated problematic sensemaking concerning commercialisation activities and academic entrepreneurship. In addition to showing how problems in sensemaking produced hesitation rather than action in business development, the findings emphasise the centrality of identities, enactments, salient cues and social contexts in organising commercialisation activities at universities.
Päivi Eriksson
added 3 research items
The purpose is to analyze scientists' sensemaking in the context of commercialization of research and academic entrepreneurship.
The paper explores how a 'privileged witness' (Wright et al., 2007), that is, a business advisor hired by a university, assists scientists in commercialising their research through research-based spin-offs (RBSOs). Prior research on the key actors of RBSOs has focused on what kind of scientists engage in this activity, what motivates them, and how they learn over time. Less research has been done on the micro-level interaction between scientists and those who assist them in spin-off creation. Our study fills this gap in the literature by studying real-life interaction between scientists and a business advisor hired by a university. The primary data for the study consists of tape-recorded discussions. The micro-ethnographic study shows how the business advisor communicates his preferred meanings concerning the RBSO to the scientists, who try to make sense of what an RBSO means and requires from them.
Ulla Hytti
added a research item
This paper investigates the identity work of science-based entrepreneurs in two very different country contexts: Finland and Russia. Building on the literature investigating role identities, we first analyse the identification of individuals with the roles of a scientist and an entrepreneur; and second, how individuals manage the boundary between these two roles. Methodologically, we take a narrative approach, which regards life stories as identity constructions. Our empirical data consist of 23 biographical interviews with science-based entrepreneurs that are inductively analysed. Our findings show that the Russian informants considered being a scientist a salient part of their self-identification, distanced themselves from the role of an entrepreneur, and set discursive boundaries to segment the two roles. For the Finnish informants, identification with the professional roles as a scientist or as an entrepreneur was less salient for the personal identity as they make a clear distinction between ‘what one does’ and ‘who one is’. They also view the two roles as integrated rather than segmented, and have no significant need to justify the border-crossing between them. Our contribution is in demonstrating how science-based entrepreneurs’ identity work is influenced by importance and meanings attached to different work roles, and how these are contextualised.
Päivi Eriksson
added an update
Abstract
This multidisciplinary consortium project focuses on the study of change, diversity and sustainability of academic entrepreneurship (AE) in Finland. The main scientific objective is to develop a novel theoretical approach, which conceptualizes AE as a social process. Drawing from this scientific objective, we will provide new knowledge of how AE is practiced at Finnish universities, and what the problems and prospects for the future are. Academic entrepreneurship concerns the rapidly growing and diverse forms of entrepreneurial activities that are adopted by and within universities worldwide. The Finnish setting is particularly fruitful and internationally interesting due to the recent changes in university law, mergers of universities and business schools, and the growing emphasis of the main funding body, the Finnish government, on entrepreneurial action through which academic knowledge can be commercialized. While AE has been previously studied with cross-sectional designs with an entrepreneurship theory and mostly managerial focus, our study takes a novel approach focusing on the emergence and dynamics of AE over time. Our study draws from business, social and educational sciences and relies on a multi-method approach combining quantitative and qualitative data (survey, interviews, observation, documents) with case study and ethnography-based research strategies. In addition to theory development, the project aims to provide: 1) a comparative and integrated analysis of Finnish universities’ arrangements, prospects and bottlenecks concerning AE, 2) a comprehensive overview of AE-related identifications within Finnish universities, 3) contextualized, longitudinal and reflexive analysis of researchers’ paths toward academic entrepreneurship and 4) similar analysis of researchers’ and students’ social positioning and agency within entrepreneurship education. The co-operation with Finnish universities as well as international and national researchers provides us both a unique access to data on AE and excellent conditions for the exchange and evaluation of ideas and joint publishing. Our project contributes to the theoretical discussions on AE at three levels (university, discipline/group and individual) emphasizing the importance of taking a grass-roots perspective in particular. Our research has a good number of practical and policy implications especially to the sustainability of AE-related strategies, policies and practices at universities.
 
Päivi Eriksson
added 2 project references
Päivi Eriksson
added an update
Project web pages at www.uef.fi/ace
 
Päivi Eriksson
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Follow us @ACEproject16
 
Päivi Eriksson
added an update
Hankkeen avoin seminaari Kuopiossa 31.1.2017, tervetuloa mukaan!
 
Päivi Eriksson
added a project goal
The objective is to study academic entrepreneurship as a social and transformational process. We will follow university students and researchers in real-time in their paths towards academic entrepreneurship.