Yes, we know research and innovation lead to long term growth and wealth creation, both social and financial. Yes, we know basic research must be translated into products and services for this to happen. And yes, the Covid-19 pandemic has put into sharp relief the false dichotomy between health/social outcomes and financial/economic objectives.
But how do we bring it together? How can we improve integration to optimise the system’s performance? We can only do this through effective, mindful, and responsible leadership that is strategically aligned with long-term goals of broader societal engagement and sustainable economic development.
Here, I present a leadership model for the engaged university. It brings together established knowledge from several disciplines, mediated by my experience in public and private sector organisations, and my research in entrepreneurship, specifically business model and product innovation (Dottore, 2009; Dottore, Pazienza, & Vecchione, 2010; Dottore & Corkindale, 2009; Muscio, Nardone, & Dottore, 2010) and university-industry interaction (Agius, Corkindale, Dottore, & Gilbert, 2006; Dottore & Kassicieh, 2014; Dottore & Kassicieh, 2017; Dottore, Agius, & Corkindale, 2008; Dottore, Baaken, & Corkindale, 2010).
The model could be linked to the following question: “Does more human capital (as measured by the level of education and/or experience) lead to more or less adaptation?”
If greater human capital translates into greater capabilities for analysis, decision making and action, then we should expect more adaptation. On the other hand, if more human capital brings greater capacity to get the business model ‘right’ earlier, then there will be less need to change.
My PhD research on start-up business model adaptation hypothesised the first scenario (greater human capital leads to more business model changes).
My data, my surprise
My hypothesis was supported by the data and the robustness tests. However, there was a surprise.
The relationship between human capital and business model adaptation became stronger with time. Start-ups with more human capital made more business model changes in Y1, relatively more in Y2 and in Y3, while the strongest association was observed in Y4. We measured human capital only in Y1.
My interpretation of this finding is that advantage organisations derive from increased human capital strengthens over time. Early stage entrepreneurial ventures often contain the owner-founders and – at most – a very small team. What the founder knows, the business knows: extremely short communication lines; vibrant dedication.
Yes … but universities?!
Okay, universities are so different from nimble, resource-starved start-ups. However, some fundamentals still apply:
Agius, S. C., Corkindale, D., Dottore, A. G., & Gilbert, M. (2006). Developing a new business model for enabling research – the case of the acpfg in australia. International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning, 2(2), 114-128.
Dottore, A. (2009, 14-17 June, 2009). Business model adaptation as a dynamic capability: A theoretical lens for observing practitioner behaviour. . Paper presented at the 22nd Bled eConference eEnablement: facilitating an open, effective and representative esociety, Bled, Slovenia.
Dottore, A., & Kassicieh, S. K. (2014). University patent holders as entrepreneurs: Factors that influence spinout activity. Journal of Knowledge Economy, 5(4), 863-891.
Dottore, A., & Kassicieh, S. K. (2017). Predicting future technopreneurs among inventors. International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management, 14(03), 1750008. doi:10.1142/s0219877017500080
Dottore, A., Pazienza, P., & Vecchione, V. (2010). Business model adaptation in the apulian agro-food industry: A preliminary study. Paper presented at the Regional Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research 2010, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.
Dottore, A. G., Agius, S. C., & Corkindale, D. (2008, 27-29 March). Business model and product market strategy in australian biotechnology entrepreneurial firms: Exploratory study. Paper presented at the 1st Annual Conference of the Academy of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Tsinghua University, Beijing.
Dottore, A. G., Baaken, T., & Corkindale, D. (2010). A partnering business model for technology transfer: The case of the muenster university of applied sciences. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 12(2), 190-216.
Dottore, A. G., & Corkindale, D. (2009, 3-6 February). Towards a theory of business model adaptation Paper presented at the Regional Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research 2009, 6th AGSE International Entrepreneurship Research Exchange, Adelaide, South Australia.
Mintzberg, H., & Van der Heyden, L. (1999). Organigraphs: Drawing how companies really work. Harvard Business Review (Sept-Oct), 87-94.
Muscio, A., Nardone, G., & Dottore, A. (2010). Understanding demand for innovation in the food industry. Measuring Business Excellence, 14(4), 35-48.
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