It takes two sides to build a bridge: universities as institutional entrepreneurs in knowledge-based regional development

Lisa Nieth

    Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

    3525 Downloads (Pure)


    There is a widespread assumption that successful regional innovation policies
    are dependent upon place leadership from coalitions of actors. These coalitions
    - consisting of different organisations such as regional authorities, companies or
    universities - are assumed to work together seamlessly and develop/enact collective
    innovation agendas to achieve regional development. The university is an important
    coalition partner because of its role as a producer and disseminator of knowledge.
    However, universities are complex organisations, sometimes lacking strong singular
    strategic interests. In this dissertation, I address the role of universities and how
    their organisational dynamics and particularities influence their participation in
    regional innovation coalitions as well as their contributions to regional innovation
    policy processes.

    More specifically, I focus on acts of institutional entrepreneurship undertaken by
    university employees and argue that alignment is a key issue. I identify two alignment
    circuits as being essential for the university’s contribution to regional development:
    (1) alignment of the diverse regional actors, and (2) internal alignment of university
    stakeholders. Universities have links at different organisational levels and interact
    with various external partners, thus creating a dynamic and powerful - but often
    unpredictable - framework. This dissertation contributes to debates on institutional
    entrepreneurship, place leadership and agency and argues that more attention for
    alignment can encourage and empower the university’s institutional entrepreneurs
    to address regional challenges.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Twente
    • Kuhlmann, Stefan, Supervisor
    • Benneworth, Paul, Co-Supervisor
    • Jongbloed, Ben, Co-Supervisor
    Thesis sponsors
    Award date28 Aug 2020
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    Print ISBNs978-90-365-5038-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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