To explain what drives entrepreneurial action, a fundamental question of the entrepreneurship research field, the study of individual’s cognition has emerged as a promising perspective, as it describes the mental processes through which individuals identify and take decisions about entrepreneurial opportunities. Most of this research has emphasized the consequences of cognition on entrepreneurial action, highlighting that individuals need the proper knowledge and motivation to identify and act upon entrepreneurial opportunities. However, less is known about the mechanisms through which these cognitive dimensions can be developed through individuals’ exposure to their social context. This is surprising as entrepreneurship is a socially embedded phenomenon and entrepreneurs are social embedded: literature has acknowledged that elements of the social context in which individuals grow up (e.g., family and early life experiences) and to which individuals are attracted later in life (e.g., workplace, friends, education) play a central role in cultivating and developing their predispositions towards entrepreneurship. The aim of the present thesis is to address this gap by concentrating on university as social context and its role in nurturing entrepreneurial cognition. University is chosen because it represents a context, which provides opportunities of learning and socialization, as well normative frames that shapes the cognition, aptitudes and beliefs of its members, students and scientists. Specifically, the three missions of university – education, research and commercialization – together concur to the development of its members’ entrepreneurial thinking and acting. The first paper focuses on the university education mission and its effects on students’ entrepreneurial knowledge adopting a learning perspective. It illustrates the extent and the circumstances under which students’ exposure to different entrepreneurial education offerings produces entrepreneurial learning outcomes. The second paper focuses on the university research mission and its effects on scientists’ success in commercializing innovations adopting an imprinting perspective. It illustrates the mechanisms through which the career imprints – which scientists internalize in the research lab – translate into open innovation behavior by their innovative startups. In turn, open innovation is shown to represent the mediating mechanism that explain why ventures founded by scientists have an advantage over other innovative startups in the commercialization of new products or services. The third paper focuses on the university commercialization mission and on how this element of university culture affects the well-being experience of student entrepreneurs. Adopting an identity perspective, it illustrates that the effect of different dimensions of firm performance (e.g., financial, social) on student entrepreneurs’ psychological well-being is contingent to the entrepreneurial culture of their university. On the basis of these studies, the thesis moves towards a process-based framework that illustrates the mechanisms and circumstances under which individuals who select themselves in the university social context develop the cognitive dimensions which, in turn, influence their entrepreneurial actions and outcomes. This framework provides the opportunity to discuss a research agenda and formulate practical implications for entrepreneurs, educators and policy-makers.

(2018). Origin and development of entrepreneurial cognition: a university embeddedness perspective [doctoral thesis - tesi di dottorato non Unibg]. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10446/131314

Origin and development of entrepreneurial cognition: a university embeddedness perspective

Hahn, Davide
2018

Abstract

To explain what drives entrepreneurial action, a fundamental question of the entrepreneurship research field, the study of individual’s cognition has emerged as a promising perspective, as it describes the mental processes through which individuals identify and take decisions about entrepreneurial opportunities. Most of this research has emphasized the consequences of cognition on entrepreneurial action, highlighting that individuals need the proper knowledge and motivation to identify and act upon entrepreneurial opportunities. However, less is known about the mechanisms through which these cognitive dimensions can be developed through individuals’ exposure to their social context. This is surprising as entrepreneurship is a socially embedded phenomenon and entrepreneurs are social embedded: literature has acknowledged that elements of the social context in which individuals grow up (e.g., family and early life experiences) and to which individuals are attracted later in life (e.g., workplace, friends, education) play a central role in cultivating and developing their predispositions towards entrepreneurship. The aim of the present thesis is to address this gap by concentrating on university as social context and its role in nurturing entrepreneurial cognition. University is chosen because it represents a context, which provides opportunities of learning and socialization, as well normative frames that shapes the cognition, aptitudes and beliefs of its members, students and scientists. Specifically, the three missions of university – education, research and commercialization – together concur to the development of its members’ entrepreneurial thinking and acting. The first paper focuses on the university education mission and its effects on students’ entrepreneurial knowledge adopting a learning perspective. It illustrates the extent and the circumstances under which students’ exposure to different entrepreneurial education offerings produces entrepreneurial learning outcomes. The second paper focuses on the university research mission and its effects on scientists’ success in commercializing innovations adopting an imprinting perspective. It illustrates the mechanisms through which the career imprints – which scientists internalize in the research lab – translate into open innovation behavior by their innovative startups. In turn, open innovation is shown to represent the mediating mechanism that explain why ventures founded by scientists have an advantage over other innovative startups in the commercialization of new products or services. The third paper focuses on the university commercialization mission and on how this element of university culture affects the well-being experience of student entrepreneurs. Adopting an identity perspective, it illustrates that the effect of different dimensions of firm performance (e.g., financial, social) on student entrepreneurs’ psychological well-being is contingent to the entrepreneurial culture of their university. On the basis of these studies, the thesis moves towards a process-based framework that illustrates the mechanisms and circumstances under which individuals who select themselves in the university social context develop the cognitive dimensions which, in turn, influence their entrepreneurial actions and outcomes. This framework provides the opportunity to discuss a research agenda and formulate practical implications for entrepreneurs, educators and policy-makers.
tesi di dottorato non Unibg
Doctoral Program in Economics and Management of Technology (DREAMT) , XXX cycle – Academic Year 2017-18.
Hahn, Davide
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