Joao J. Ferreira, Alain Fayolle, Vanessa Ratten, Maria Raposo (eds) (2018), Entrepreneurial Universities: Collaboration, Education and Policies, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 280 p.
James D. Hart (2018), Classroom Exercises for Entrepreneurship: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach, Elgar Guide to Teaching, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 309 p.
2 The university as a knowledge institution is in an ongoing process of change, called academic revolutions, in today’s context of the entrepreneurial society (Audretsch, 2007). Today “universities need to interact closely with industry and government for the achievement of socioeconomic development, known as the triple helix of innovation” (Ferreira et al., 2018, p. 61). These two books are fundamental to understand the recent evolution of the university’s role in a social and economic context that is characterized by entrepreneurship development in all societies and activities (Boutillier, Uzunidis, 2017). Nevertheless, both books are very different in their form and their content. The book edited by J. J. Ferreira and his colleagues is a set of academic papers regarding the recent evolution of the functioning of universities, while J. D. Hart’s book is a classroom exercises book to develop students’ entrepreneurial abilities. In fact, Ferreira’s book presents the economic, social and cultural context, while Hart’s handbook is focused on entrepreneurship teaching for students.
3 Ferreira’s et al. book contains 13 chapters (including the introduction and conclusion) written by 40 researchers from numerous universities in Europe and in Brazil. They present the evolution of universities, with details from about 30 years ago. In other words: how are universities becoming entrepreneurial? The introduction reviews the definition of an entrepreneurial university and the evolution of its role. Universities are becoming more entrepreneurial, and their relations with enterprises are changing radically: “traditionally entrepreneurship was considered in terms of the monetary income a university received from outside business activities that mostly arose from scientific discoveries. However, this conceptualization of entrepreneurship has changed, to include partnership arrangements with other education providers and housing arrangements on campuses. The diversity of entrepreneurship is reflected in the building and construction going on at universities” (p. 3). This evolution “coincides with a growing interest in solving problems in a creative way” (idem). The traditional role of universities was to disseminate knowledge to society. They are becoming more entrepreneurial in their internal organization, but also externally, developing partnerships with a large range of actors (enterprises, research centres, public institutions, etc.). In fact, in daily entrepreneurial society, the objective of entrepreneurial universities is to prepare students for future professional life and to develop their entrepreneurial skills. Universities are changed because society is changing in the context of the global market. Capitalism has been changing, becoming an “academic capitalism”, where the production and use of knowledge are becoming a crucial necessity.
4 The chapters of the book present various aspects of entrepreneurial universities, about education (to develop students’ entrepreneurial skills), research and technology transfer (to create innovative start-ups), and their relations with existing enterprises. This phenomenon is global. All countries take part in this evolution, developed and developing countries with a high degree of competitiveness between each of them. A. Daniel, A. Vitoria and M. Pita focus their analysis on the university’s role in entrepreneurial education programs with enterprises in Europe. If universities develop this kind of program it means that entrepreneurial skills are learnable, but the question is how to measure and to understand the impact of entrepreneurial education programs on entrepreneurial practices developed in the European Union. This inquiry was based on a questionnaire showing that students have a positive opinion of this program, but their opinion differs regarding their scientific field (scientific or social sciences). The paper of C. Marques, V. Barga, J. J. Ferreira, and M. Rodrigues develops a very interesting analysis on Brazilian entrepreneurial universities. Their analysis is focused on INTA Faculties located in the state of Ceara, which have developed a program to promote entrepreneurship. The results show the positive impacts of this program. Nevertheless, the authors underline the necessity to strengthen research in their field to have a better view of this phenomena.
5 A Schmitz, G. Dandolini, J. de Souza, M. Guerrero and D. Urbano present the results of a qualitative study. They study how innovation and entrepreneurship support universities to contribute to regional socio-economic development and to preserve their own sustainability, in four universities in Spain and in Brazil. This study shows the main role of the university environment in order to develop innovation. The authors underline three main levels of interactions: “The first level is related to people, and it represents individual agency. The second level is related to the organization itself, and it represents the social structure of the university. The third level is related to the interaction of the university with its environment” (p. 84). N. Madichie, A. Gbadamosi and S. Nwankwo study entrepreneurialism in a London university. This university has developed a pedagogical system, the Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) marketing curriculum introduced in the 2005-2006 academic year, which has led to an increase in the number of entrepreneurs. U. Wisniewska and J. Lewicki focused their research on Poland, which was a planned economy for many decades after the Second World War. Today’s aim of the Polish government is to develop a close relationship between researchers and entrepreneurs to support the creation of high-technology enterprises. But the reality is very complex. The process of change is a long one; many barriers exist between researchers and entrepreneurs in Poland: different approaches to time and cost, different priorities, but also “mutual lack of trust and the deficit of knowledge about each other, and, unfortunately, the still poorly developed environment of technology transfer intermediaries. In the science and innovation ecosystem, there is a dramatic lack of professional managers who have experience at all levels of company management” (p. 116). The authors of this chapter underline the necessity to modernize doctoral education in Poland to prepare research staff to also work outside academia.
6 A.-R. Hofer and G. Kaffka focus their analysis on higher education institutions (HEI) to develop innovative enterprises, and a “entrepreneurial mindset” (p. 143), which combines creativity, a sense of initiative, problem solving, tolerance of ambiguity, the capability to marshal resources, and financial technological knowledge. Their analysis is focused on four small European countries (Bulgaria, Ireland, Hungary, and the Netherlands). Their results show that the transformation of university institutions is a long and slow process. The authors underline that HEI could: “1/ adjust staff teaching and research workloads for those taking new responsibilities that support the institution’s entrepreneurial agenda; 2/ provide institutional funds to staff to stimulate innovation and change; 3/ provide development sabbaticals for staff who seek to enhance their entrepreneurial capacity, and 4/ make office and laboratory space available for staff to pursue entrepreneurial activities or 5/ provide opportunities for professors to work part-time in their own companies” (p. 146). G. A. Zapata-Huamani, S. Fernandez-Lopez, L. Rey-Ares and D. Rodeiro-Pazos focus their analysis on the role of entrepreneurial universities to promote new technology-based firms. Their analysis is a macroeconomic analysis which combines data from various sources: the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the Global Competitiveness Report, the World Bank (Doing Business) and the International Monetary Fund. “Thus, the final sample comprised 368 observations from 65 countries during the period 2006-13” (p. 157). Their results show that to increase collaboration between university and industry, improvements in four main areas and in specific tools are required: efficient technology transfer, marketing actions, personal connections between universities and industries and financial support instruments.
7 S. Le Pontois and S. Foliard study the dynamics of student entrepreneurial teams, which they analyze as a black box that they try to open and understand. They closely studied a team of five students. They show that the functioning of the team is very informal. They explain how the student team engaged in an entrepreneurial project do not know exactly what they will do and who will be in charge of the project, but the results underline the predominance of a strong leader and a co-leader. But, of course, the study is based only on a simple example, which is difficult to generalize. K Panwar Seth, F. Clear, T. Khan and S. Sakthi Ananthan focus their analysis on two very different countries, India and the UK, to analyze the role of entrepreneurship education on the entrepreneurial intention of students. They show that “in the case of Indian students, their entrepreneurial intentions do not bear any significant relationship with attitude or perception towards opening up their own new venture” (p. 219). On the other hand, for UK students, the “intention to start their own venture is primarily governed by their attitude and perception to succeed in their entrepreneurial venture” (p. 219). This conclusion is very interesting but the authors do not explain in detail the reasons for their significant differences, which can be analyzed only through a deep sociological analysis.
8 K. Kleine, F. Giones, M. Camargo and S. Tegtmeier study how to build entrepreneurial capabilities in engineering education, in two particular cases: at Lorraine University (France) and at the University of Southern Denmark. For these two cases the development of entrepreneurial programs is the result of a strong regional demand for professionals with an entrepreneurial mindset and engineering capacities. The authors explain that “engineering education programs still have a substantial number of courses that rely on the passive engagement of the students, following a more traditional teaching model, where exercises on computer simulation are the closest that the student gets to reality” (p. 241). They add that “the introduction of action-based training for entrepreneurship competences requires a supportive and collaborative environment” (p. 241). The authors also note that their study is based only on a small selection of cases. New studies have to be developed in order to obtain a deep analysis on the future development of the entrepreneurial capabilities of students in engineering education. The last paper has been written by S. Battisti, E. Giugliani, R. Priklanicki and P. Traverso. They study high-impact entrepreneurial actions from the following research question: “what are the main entrepreneurial drivers for the collaboration of the innovation ecosystem that enables the high impact of technology-based initiatives on business and society?” (p. 246). The study is based on data collected between 2013 and 2017. The main sources of data were direct observations at the workplaces of TECNOPUC (the first structure related to innovation and entrepreneurship in the Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil), and the Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK) in Italy. The main results of this analysis identify four drivers for the success of sustainable collaborations in research and innovation: consultancy public and private funding support to address business and social needs; SMEs are developing products with society and academia; education companies and the needs of society are empowering academics to promote joint research, and researchers are collaborating together in specific physical places. Nevertheless, this analysis is based only on two cases, whose results cannot be generalized.
9 The various papers on entrepreneurial universities clearly show that the process of change from an industrial society to an entrepreneurial society is the result of a long and difficult road. The role of universities is crucial to transform old social practices. Hart’s handbook is essential to face this new challenge. The author proposes a large range of classroom exercises to help students to develop entrepreneurial capabilities, but more globally, the main objective of this book is to focus on the creative capabilities of students and teachers, which is an absolute necessity in today’s society.