Challenges of social capital development in the university science incubator: the case of the graduate entrepreneur

Martina Battisti, Maura McAdam

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    University science incubators (USIs) are sites where new entrepreneurial firms can be nurtured from initial conception through to commercial viability, usually over a period of around three years. Evidence suggests that USIs are an effective support mechanism for new ventures originating from nearby universities through the provision of facilities, advice and ready access to entrepreneurial networks. In essence, a USI focuses on compensating for the resource deficits of inexperienced and newly founded firms to facilitate the development of both founder and business, with the overall aim of fostering a growth-oriented strategy. Little attention has been paid, however, to how USIs compensate for the resource deficit of social capital. This paper uses a qualitative social network approach to explore the challenges faced by graduate entrepreneurs when developing and managing their social capital in the context of a USI. The authors find that, in the start-up process, social capital is not static, but rather is in a state of ‘becoming’, adapting to the changing resource needs of the enterprise. Furthermore, graduate entrepreneurs face specific problems associated with the relational and cognitive dimensions of social capital. Thus, the paper offers insights into how the USI enables graduate entrepreneurs to address the challenges of social capital development and the consequent implications for theory and practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)261-276
    JournalThe International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


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