The Strategic Concept of an Entrepreneurial University
The Humboldt model of a pure research university is based on a philosophical idea about the nature and relevance of research. This idea was put into practice about two hundred years ago. In contrast, the strategic concept of an entrepreneurial university is a construct suggested by Burton R. Clark who derived this construct from empirically observed cases of pro-active universities in the 1980s and 1990s. Prototypes of such pro-active universities, termed as entrepreneurial universities, are the University of Warwick in England, the University of Michigan in the US, and Monash University in Australia [5, 6].
The strategic plan of an entrepreneurial university typically focuses on reinforcing activities which transform the university from a state-led to an own-led institution. As a result, the university should be able to move fast, with high ambitions of its own, in the globalized environment of the 21st century. Of course, universities differ and, as a consequence, strategies need to also address the specialties of the institution. In addition, universities used the emerging entrepreneurialism to create spin-offs and start-ups, thereby bringing entrepreneurship into society.
In order to transform an originally state-led university into an entrepreneurial one, the strategic plan should concentrate on strengthening factors which act as catalysts for change. According to Clark there are five key factors to consider:
• Diversify the funding base: besides the general state funding, a university should try to secure means from other government sources and from private organized sources, especially from business firms and foundations. In addition, the university should generate some of its own income by fund-raising from alumni, from garnering research contracts, or from the transfer of knowledge.
• Improve the steering capacity of the university. A university should display administrative strength at all levels. Change-oriented administrations are needed in all parts of a university. New administrators should increase income and control cost.
• Create units besides the traditional, discipline-centered departments. These units
are best in pursuing problem-oriented research, be it interdisciplinary, trans-disciplinary, or at the margin of a traditional research field. All new units should have a high potential to gain scientific reputation and third party funding. New areas for teaching, such as lifelong learning, distance education, or the development of massively open online courses, could also be tackled by newly established units. As a consequence, the traditional departmental or faculty structure of a university is supplemented by a strong periphery, representing new research and teaching interests, challenging traditional departments and making them increasingly open to change.
• Support those departments which go for entrepreneurial actions. In doing so,
teams within the traditional units become involved in the process of change. The university should ensure that these entrepreneurial actions are well managed by change-oriented administrators.
• Intensify the competition for outside reputation. Hire high-reputation academ-
ics from outside who in turn will attract excellent new faculty members and bright students. This will speed up the pace of change toward entrepreneurialism within the university.
The concept of an entrepreneurial university contains a strategic plan for change, from a state-led, bureaucratic, and slow-moving institution to a university being able to steer itself and to move fast. Clark´s advice concerning the key factors of change was heeded by many world universities in their strategic plans, which aim to strengthen their autonomy and their world standings.
Note that entrepreneurialism does not necessarily imply a commercialization of the university. Rather the contrary: the more a university is successful in steering the above-mentioned activities, the more it is able to and capable of attaining increased reputation. By increasing and enhancing its reputation, a university will attract more long run, general research grants, thus reinforcing the freedom of research. The less a university is successful, the more it will become dependent on money only given for short-term purposes and for specific applications.