Constraining entrepreneurial development: A knowledge-based view of social networks among academic entrepreneurs

Christopher Hayter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


While university spinoffs have become a well-accepted vehicle for regional economic dynamism, they face numerous developmental barriers associated with the unique academic context from which they are established. Recent research shows that homophilous social networks among faculty entrepreneurs constitute one such barrier, and yet few studies have investigated the specific characteristics of spinoff networks and their relationship to entrepreneurial development. This paper seeks to address this gap through a mixed-methods research design focused on the composition, contributions, and evolution of social networks among faculty entrepreneurs whose spinoffs are within various phases of entrepreneurship. Employing a knowledge-spillover conceptual lens, this study finds that social networks among early-stage academic entrepreneurs are important for spurring and supporting spinoff establishment, but if they do not evolve from their initial configuration, these networks can largely constrain subsequent stages of spinoff development. Social networks among successful spinoffs, however, evolve with the help of first-order - or boundary spanning - individuals who help socialize academic entrepreneurs to market-oriented motivations, values, and practices that they may not otherwise receive in an academic environment. Further, these individuals provide connections to other contacts who, in turn, provide additional spinoff-enabling resources and contacts. Based on these findings, a conceptual model is introduced that explains spinoff success as a function of network evolution. Implications for research and public policy are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-490
Number of pages16
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Knowledge spillovers
  • Social networks
  • Technology transfer
  • University spinoffs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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