Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Ratio Working Papers,
The Ratio Institute

No 160: The Effectiveness of University Knowledge Spill-Overs: Performance Differences between University Spin-Offs and Corporate Spin-Offs

Karl Wennberg (), Johan Wiklund () and Mike Wright ()
Additional contact information
Karl Wennberg: The Ratio Institute and Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 3203, SE-103 64 Stockholm, Sweden
Johan Wiklund: Whitman School of Management and Jönköping International Business School, Sweden, Postal: Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University, 721 University Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13244-2450
Mike Wright: Centre for Management Buy-out Research, Nottingham University Business School and University of Ghent, Postal: Centre for Management Buy-out Research, Nottingham University Business School, Jubilee Campus, Nottingham NG8 1BB,

Abstract: While much prior research has focused upon how the Technology Transfer Offices and other contextual characteristics shape the level of university spin-offs (USO), there is little research on entrepreneurial potential among individual academics, and to the best of our knowledge, no comparative studies with other types of spin-offs exist to date. In this paper we suggest that knowledge transfer from academic research may flow indirectly to entrepreneurship by individuals with a university education background who become involved in new venture creation by means of corporate spin-offs (CSO) after gaining industrial experience, rather than leaving university employment to found a new venture as an academic spinoff. In fact, the commercial knowledge gained by industry experience is potentially more valuable for entrepreneurial performance compared to the academic knowledge gained by additional research experience at a university. This leads us to posit that not only will the average performance of CSOs be higher than comparable USOs, but the gains from founder’s prior experiences will also be higher among CSOs. We investigate these propositions in a comparative study tracking the complete population of USOs and CSOs among the Swedish knowledge-intensive sectors between 1994 and 2002.

Keywords: Spill-Overs

JEL-codes: L53; M13; O32; O34

46 pages, December 16, 2010

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