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

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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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