Friday, September 22, 2006

What causes academics to become entrepreneurial?

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has awarded its second Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship to Professor Toby Stuart of the Harvard Business School.

The State Science and Technology Institute created the following summaries of a selected set of Professor Stuart's most recent articles:

"When Do Scientists Become Entrepreneurs? The Social Structural Antecedents of Commercial Activity in the Academic Life Sciences"
Stuart and Waverly Ding of Berkeley's Haas School of Business take a randomly selected sample of 5,100 life science Ph.D.s in academia, and examine the link between participation in for-profit entrepreneurial ventures and the presence of an academic social network that supports faculty entrepreneurism. They find that university scientists are more likely to found or join the board of a new firm if other faculty members have already done so, particularly if more prestigious colleagues in their department have created their own start-ups. They also find evidence that more accomplished faculty members are more likely to help commercialize technologies and to lead the way in fostering an entrepreneurial climate within a university department.

"The Impact of Academic Patenting on the Rate, Quality and Direction of (Public) Research Output"
In this January 2006 paper, Stuart, Ding, and Pierre Azoulay of Columbia University's Graduate School of Business examine the patents and research output of 3,862 academic life scientists to determine if the increasing focus on commercialization at American universities is affecting the quantity and quality of published research. They conclude that patent activity has a positive effect on the rate of article publication, but no observable effect on the quality of those articles.

"Gender Differences in Patenting in the Academic Life Sciences"
In this Kauffman-sponsored study, Stuart, Ding, and Fiona Murray of MIT's Sloan School of Management reveal that male life scientists in academia secure patents at more than twice the rate of their female colleagues. The study suggests that women conduct equally significant research, but often find themselves left out of social networks that provide valuable access to the commercial sector. The authors conclude that additional networking groups could help foster greater connections between female researchers and the business community.

These articles and others by Toby Stuart are available through the TBED Resource Center at

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