Evolving Entrepreneurial Universities: Experiences and Challenges in the Middle Eastern Context
in Fayolle, A. & Redford, D. T. (2014). Handbook of Research in Entrepreneurship Education: Entrepreneurial University Handbook Volume 4 Cambridge: Edward Elgar Publishing
25 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2015
Date Written: 2014
Despite great differences in economic conditions and resource availability, social structures, cultural settings and historical backgrounds, Higher Education systems in most countries face similar challenges: maintaining research capacity, combining elite with mass Higher Education, offering lifelong education and providing society with a space for the development and maintenance of critical knowledge, independent thinking, social identity and values. This fact becomes more relevant during recessionary times and has gained the attention of academics, governments and policy-makers around the world. Particularly, these efforts have been encouraged because entrepreneurial universities become important catalysts for regional, economic and social development (Guerrero and Urbano, 2011; Kirby et al., 2011). The existing literature on entrepreneurial universities provides insights about the entrepreneurial transformation process of universities in developed countries (e.g., the United States by O’Shea et al., 2005, 2007; and Link and Scott, 2005; and Europe by Clark, 1998; Klofsten and Jones-Evans, 2000; Kirby, 2006; Wright et al., 2007; Grimaldi, et al., 2011; and Guerrero and Urbano, 2011, 2012) and current efforts to explore it in developing countries (e.g., Iran by Sooreh et al., 2011; Farsi et al., 2012). The studies evidenced that usually in developing countries the first measures implemented to fostering entrepreneurship within universities are entrepreneurship educational programmes. The main explanation is the positive relationship between entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial activity (Coduras et al., 2008). However, the low prevalence rate of formal and informal entrepreneurship education in developing countries (i.e., Uruguay, Latvia, Peru, Chile, Iran, Argentina and Mexico) clearly evidenced the need of other support measures for entrepreneurs starting business within universities (Coduras et al., 2010). Therefore, in developing countries, the literature on entrepreneurial universities is somewhat limited or, more accurately, rare (Etzkowitz and Mello, 2004).
Based on these previous arguments, our purpose is to contribute to a better understanding of the entrepreneurial transformation process of entrepreneurial universities in developing countries. To accomplish this objective, theoretically we adopted an integral entrepreneurial university framework that considers: (1) the relevance of universities’ environmental and internal factors to fulfill their teaching, research and entrepreneurial activities (Guerrero and Urbano, 2011, 2012) and (2) the socioeconomic impacts generated by these activities (Urbano and Guerrero, 2013). To accomplish this objective, we focus on Iran, which is a lower-middle-income economy and one of the most important countries in the Middle East region (World Bank, 2009). Methodologically, we explore case studies of two universities located in Tehran: University of Tehran (UT) and Sharif University of Technology (SUT). Following this introduction, this study comprises four main sections: the entrepreneurial universities framework, the multiple case study design, the experience of Iranian entrepreneurial universities, and conclusions.
Keywords: Entrepreneurial Universities, Iran, Middle East, University of Tehran, Sharif University of Technology, Multiple Case Study
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation