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The organizational architecture of entrepreneurial universities across the stages of entrepreneurship: a conceptual framework

Lookup NU author(s): Professor James Cunningham



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Entrepreneurial universities contribute directly and indirectly to supporting all stages of entrepreneurship. The challenge for entrepreneurial universities is how they can best support academic entrepreneurs through these stages of entrepreneurship. This has led to the creation of different and often ad hoc organizational units within an entrepreneurial university. The organizational challenge for entrepreneurial universities is the selection of the appropriate formal organizational architecture to support the stages of entrepreneurship. The purpose of this paper is to examine the organizational architecture of entrepreneurial universities and how it supports the stages of entrepreneurship — latent, emergent, launch, and growth. Our conceptual organizational framework conflates the stages of entrepreneurship with the actual needs of university-based entrepreneurs and how these needs are supported through different formal organizational units within the organizational architecture of entrepreneurial universities. Therein, we categorize three types of formal organizational units — those that focus on exploration stages of entrepreneurship, those that straddle exploration and exploitation stages of entrepreneurship, and those that boundary span all stages of entrepreneurship. We conclude by discussing the resultant organizational tensions for entrepreneurial universities and highlight future avenues of research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cunningham JA, Lehmann EE, Menter M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Small Business Economics

Year: 2022

Volume: 59

Pages: 11-27

Print publication date: 01/06/2022

Online publication date: 17/06/2021

Acceptance date: 10/05/2021

Date deposited: 19/11/2021

ISSN (print): 0921-898X

ISSN (electronic): 1573-0913

Publisher: Springer New York LLC


DOI: 10.1007/s11187-021-00513-5


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