Universities are recognized as a particular type of public organization. Due to the important role they are acquiring in the development of regional economies, universities are facing significant pressures to become more entrepreneurial and similar to private sector organizations. This new role requires universities to engage in substantial change activities in order to get legitimacy from their ecosystem. Change management literature has mainly assumed that changes in public-sector organizations are the result of top-down initiatives as well as the exercise of political clout. Instead, the role of agency and bottom-up dynamics in explaining change in public-sector organizations is still overlooked. Based on a longitudinal case study of a young university in Italy, this research explores its bottom-up process of internal transformation to become more entrepreneurial and fully legitimized in its local innovation ecosystem. In doing so, we contribute to existing literature in several ways. First, we add a process lens for understanding the transformation of a public actor not from the perspective of environmentally imposed changes processes, but through proactive interactions, role definition and activities. Second, we demonstrate that the entry of a key actor in a regional system unfreezes the existing equilibrium, by changing the distribution of competences and the awareness of other actors’ activity. Third, we show that bottom-up processes favouring bandwagon effects are particularly appropriate for change processes of public institutions that are not affected by a substantial crisis (as usual trigger for change processes).

How to acquire legitimacy and become a player in a regional innovation ecosystem? The case of a young university / Villani, Elisa; Lechner, Christian. - In: THE JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER. - ISSN 0892-9912. - 46:4(2021), pp. 1017-1045. [https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-020-09803-8]

How to acquire legitimacy and become a player in a regional innovation ecosystem? The case of a young university

Lechner, Christian
2021

Abstract

Universities are recognized as a particular type of public organization. Due to the important role they are acquiring in the development of regional economies, universities are facing significant pressures to become more entrepreneurial and similar to private sector organizations. This new role requires universities to engage in substantial change activities in order to get legitimacy from their ecosystem. Change management literature has mainly assumed that changes in public-sector organizations are the result of top-down initiatives as well as the exercise of political clout. Instead, the role of agency and bottom-up dynamics in explaining change in public-sector organizations is still overlooked. Based on a longitudinal case study of a young university in Italy, this research explores its bottom-up process of internal transformation to become more entrepreneurial and fully legitimized in its local innovation ecosystem. In doing so, we contribute to existing literature in several ways. First, we add a process lens for understanding the transformation of a public actor not from the perspective of environmentally imposed changes processes, but through proactive interactions, role definition and activities. Second, we demonstrate that the entry of a key actor in a regional system unfreezes the existing equilibrium, by changing the distribution of competences and the awareness of other actors’ activity. Third, we show that bottom-up processes favouring bandwagon effects are particularly appropriate for change processes of public institutions that are not affected by a substantial crisis (as usual trigger for change processes).
How to acquire legitimacy and become a player in a regional innovation ecosystem? The case of a young university / Villani, Elisa; Lechner, Christian. - In: THE JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER. - ISSN 0892-9912. - 46:4(2021), pp. 1017-1045. [https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-020-09803-8]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11385/202675
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