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One Size Fits All? Incubator Strategies and Resource Constraints of High-Tech Entrepreneurs

By M.A. van Weele


University affiliated incubators have been recognized for their potential to turn cutting edge scientific knowledge into successful new businesses. However, the underlying strategies of incubators and the perspective of the entrepreneur remain underexposed in scientific literature. The aim of this study is therefore (i) to understand the resource constraints of incubated high-tech entrepreneurs, and (ii) to identify the strategies incubators pursue in order to meet these constraints. This research takes an inductive approach by deriving strategies and constraints from a sample of six European university affiliated incubators. A total of 67 interviews have been conducted with entrepreneurs and incubator stakeholders. It was found that entrepreneurs and incubators initially have a different vision, with entrepreneurs perceiving tangible resource constraints, whereas the incubators mainly perceive intangible (human capital) resources as main constraints of entrepreneurs. Later, entrepreneurs align with the incubator’s vision, and we therefore suggest that entrepreneurs behave as bounded rational agents. They suffer from rational boundaries, as they are unconscious incompetent, hesitant to step out of their comfort zone, and primarily short-term oriented. The severity of the constraints and rational boundaries strongly influences the strategies pursued by incubators, with incubators being highly assertive in early stages, when resource constraints and rational boundaries are highest. We conclude that there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy, and that incubators should use multiple strategies to ensure a fit between their strategy and tenants at all times

Topics: Geowetenschappen, Incubator, Spin-off, Constraints, Resources, Strategies
Year: 2012
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