Researching Entrepreneurial Universities (REU)

In addition to the key objectives of excelling in research and education, universities are increasingly tasked with fulfilling and enhancing their third mission - a concerted effort to help stimulate and sustain economic development. The current knowledge economy demands that universities act more entrepreneurial. As industries need more specific knowledge and are constantly more science based, university may be central in stimulating the economy through research and innovation. The REU-group want to focus upon entrepreneurial universities in modern society, and to understand more about how universities can play a role in stimulating economic development.

The group wants to explore several directions:


How the idea of the entrepreneurial university translate into action

This direction rests on two premises: 1) The entrepreneurial university can be understood as a popular idea/concept/knowledge that is being spread to organizations all over the world – an idea whose time and place has come. 2) The spread and adaption process must be understood as a process of translation. The theoretical umbrella for these premises is the Scandinavian institutionalist approach, and the concept of translation is associated with change in management ideas and concepts.


The importance of context

  • Contextualizing entrepreneurial universities

In understanding more about the contextual influences on entrepreneurial universities, the “where” and “when” dimensions are of particular interest. “Where” refers to the manifold location in which this entrepreneurship happens and can be distinguished into business, social, spatial and institutional contexts. It includes both distal context, for example, countries, political systems or society, as well as proximate context such as the social environment and local neighborhood. “When” refers to temporal and historical contexts.


  • The university context and student entrepreneurship

An emerging stream of literature indicates that there is a relationship between university context and the intended entrepreneurial action of students. A number of studies have addressed the context in which students develop during their studies at higher education institutions. We would like to get a deeper knowledge of this and would like to delve deeper into the idea of the university context both with comparative quantitative data, but also with understanding better the concept of the entrepreneurial infrastructure in a university.


  • Entrepreneurial teams and the innovation infrastructure

Entrepreneurship is a practical activity, where learning by doing is encouraged. This perspective aims at entrepreneurial teams who find themselves getting the support of a business incubator or accelerator. At UiT the infrastructure for entrepreneurship is developing through the Design Thinking Lab, business competitions and plans of student incubation.

This research will focus on the practices of entrepreneurial teams within an entrepreneurial infrastructure to understand how entrepreneurial knowledge is constructed and brokered within a team and how this may be impacted.



The new role of universities in

  • co-creation of sustainability in local industry

The chosen perspective on the role of academia in relation to entrepreneurship draws on both the service and the institutional theory literature. The focus is on the potential of the tourism sector in terms of sustainable development. The latter is understood in relation to the creation of societal transformations not limited to economic progress. Here, the concepts of value, co-creation, engagement and institutions have a central role. It is investigated how the individual characteristics of each actor engaged in innovation and entrepreneurship and the related organizational and the institutional environments influence the way value, i.e. new sustainable tourism practices and standards, eventually emerges. Case studies concerning local and regional projects promoting regional sustainability through tourism-related entrepreneurship and innovation are investigated.


  • in the responsible research and innovation paradigm

The Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) concept acknowledges the power of research and innovation as a mechanism for genuine and transformative societal change to shape our collective future. The role of the university is paramount in the RRI concept and addresses issues such as co – creation, gender equality, open innovation, ethics within the university itself, but also with partners and stakeholder.


  • for local industry

Results from the  research project "A knowledge-based North of Norway" shows that 30% of all the companies have implemented research- based innovations, and that tree out of four companies implement innovations more generally. However, the study shows that collaborations with the university are not an important factor for stimulation innovation in these companies. There is a need for more research on this challenge. How can the companies utilize the knowledge they gain from this collaboration? And, what are the companies motives for get into further collaborations with the university and other research institutions, if they do no manage to implement new knowledge into their own innovation-processes? 


The international strategies of entrepreneurial universities

The development of international entrepreneurial strategies is of particular interest for entrepreneurial universities. The relatively new and growing literature on international entrepreneurship literature focuses mainly on small and new private ventures, however, some definitions of the concept also includes corporate entrepreneurship Studying international entrepreneurship in the university sector could represent a new contribution and add novel knowledge to the field. 



Phone: + 47 776 23300
E-mail: Elin Oftedal


School of Business and Economics 
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Post box 6050 Langnes
N-9037 Tromsø


School of Business and Economics at UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Breivangvegen 23
9010 Tromsø

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