European Community Program:

In the last three decades, a rich body of research has focused on knowledge-commercialisation activities by academic researchers. In addition to the traditional mandates of teaching and research, knowledge transfer has become a third mission in which academic institutions engage. Because academic knowledge may be hard to transfer, it becomes desirable to directly involve academic organisations and scientists in commercial activities. As a result, policymakers in both the US and Europe have implemented legislation to stimulate the involvement of universities in the commercialisation of research. Understanding how the process of commercialisation of academic research operates and assessing its impact are therefore relevant exercises for management studies, public policy and social welfare.

Research Objectives

While much of the existing work on academics’ engagement in knowledge-transfer activities has focused on assessing empirical relationships and phenomena, very few contributions address how research on universities may yield more general theoretical contributions to the management literature. To fill part of this void, the aim of TASTE is to contribute to entrepreneurship theory, illuminating:

1) The social-cognitive determinants of academics’ enterprising behaviours;
2) The impact of knowledge-commercialisation activities on academics’ cognitions and behaviours;
3) How and to what extent the engagement in knowledge-commercialisation activities is changing academic institutions and their constituting logics.

Research Methodology

TASTE is structured on three different level of analysis:

1) The first level focuses on individuals. Relying on a representative sample of Italian academics, it analyses academics’ cognitive characteristics and human capital, as well as the depth and breadth of knowledge-commercialisation activities in which academics engage in;

2) The second level focuses on organizations. This is meant to characterize the population of Italian academics spin-offs (i.e., firms established to commercialize knowledge developed inside public research institutions), indentifying their founding and management teams, as well as assessing their developed technologies and market performances;

3) The third level focuses on academic institutions. It characterizes the Italian public research institutions, analyzing their constituting logics as well as the whole set of mechanisms (e.g., internal policies, technology transfer offices and university incubators) put in place to support knowledge-commercialisation activities by academics.

The collected primary and secondary information will be structured in the TASTE database. The study will be located in Italy, and it will be hosted by the Department of Management of the University of Bologna.