Promoting entrepreneurship in high-technology among graduates of technical universities: determinants of entrepreneurial behaviour and definition of an ideal profile of entrepreneurship competences

  • Heißenberger, Julia (Co-Investigator (CoI))

Project: Research project

Project Details


Entrepreneurship plays an important role in economic development in supporting technological innovations, increasing economic efficiency and as a consequence creating new jobs. Specially, new, high-technology companies contribute in a strong way to the growth and vitality of the economy. They are a basis for innovation, add vitality to the industry, make regional developments possible and hence offer alternatives for those people who prefer to work outside large organizations. Even in Austria, which has many university graduates with technical background and a high potential for starting a business in high-technology, a recent large study revealed that the majority of graduates becomes something else than entrepreneurs. Thus, with a score of 8,7 % Austria stays behind in its total-entrepreneurial-activity compared to entrepreneurial countries e.g. like the United States which score 13,8 %. So far, not only practice highlights the importance of research on entrepreneurial activity. There even exists a lack of research among university graduates acting as entrepreneurs. Researchers also claim, that universities only teach their students in becoming skilled employees in large organizations. Exemplary, in the case of technology-based ventures, students at technical universities are advised how to run R&D departments but do not how to create their own research, form a business and lately manage it. This means that universities neglect to provide their graduates with skills required as an entrepreneur (e.g. networking, team working, and acquiring resources). Also, it is known, that graduates of universities do not become entrepreneurs right after graduation, they prefer to gain experience in large organizations. This desire to wait somehow results from a lack of emphasis on practical entrepreneurship skills, knowledge and network in the university environment. Therefore different stakeholders like policy makers try to find out how to increase the number of entrepreneurs while focusing on the three major barriers to entrepreneurship: social and cultural barriers, lack of capital, and lack of education. Hence, it is known that also universities are advised to consider changes in strategy, culture and practice to become more entrepreneurial. However, there has been little discussion on the concrete changes necessary, as little is known about the factors that motivate university graduates to become entrepreneurs. Similarly, Kwong & Thompson point out, that studies among alumni could provide a more precise picture of the actual drivers and inhibitors of entrepreneurial activities of university graduates. Consequently, after conducting an extensive literature review and defining important terms, this work addresses that gap of research and aims to explore the reasons nascent entrepreneurs in high-technology quote as important and tries to answer the following research question: Which factors influence graduates of technical universities in their decision to become entrepreneurs in high-technology? The answer to this question will result in an overview of factors influencing the decision to become an entrepreneur. To compare influencing factors of general entrepreneurs versus entrepreneurs in high-technology results of a qualitative study conducted with high-technology entrepreneurs will furthermore be presented. Results of the study will serve as a basis for further research where an ideal competence profile for entrepreneurs in high-technology will be elaborated. This competence profile should act as basis for giving implications to technical universities in Austria to work up their way in becoming entrepreneurial universities.
Effective start/end date30/09/1230/04/17


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