Revisiting Functions and Roles of the Entrepreneurial University in Social and Economic Systems in the Regional Context

Revisiting Functions and Roles of the Entrepreneurial University in Social and Economic Systems in the Regional Context

Irina A. Pavlova (National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0174-0.ch008


Today, institutions are the primary factor shaping national and regional environments. Being a very conservative institution, the university undergoes tremendous transformational changes stepping in the domain of the third university mission. The rise and development of the entrepreneurial university as an institution manifests an ongoing process, the dynamics of which can be confirmed by quantitative and qualitative indicators relevant for social and economic development of the regions and territories. The chapter focuses on the functional institutional approach in assessing an entrepreneurial university as an important institution in the regional socio-economic system, including the innovation system as its part. Basing on empirical data, the functional analysis empowers to draw conclusion on certain characteristics of entrepreneurial universities to overcome the limitations embedded in the national settings.
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Functional Approach For Analysis Of Institutions

There is a tendency to pay special attention to institutions as “root causes” of development, stressing the smaller importance of geographical and political factors (Johnson et al., 2003). Functional approach to the innovation processes analysis is an incremental tool for institutional theory since it allows to evaluate innovation systems’ institutions and dynamics, to compare structure and functionality of the systems and to identify missing functions or system dysfunctions (Johnson, 2002). Edquist and Johnson (1997) are among the first researchers to identify three main functions of institutions such as reducing uncertainty by providing information, managing conflicts and cooperation, providing incentives. Labeling them as general functions of institutions, the authors describe their role in relation to innovation development in terms of (1) the allocation of resources on innovation and (2) evaluation of institutions as an obstacle or support to innovation (Edquist & Johnson, 1997). These three functions are reflected in the earlier work by D.North (1990), who does not apply the term “function”, but describes these areas as the activities of institutions.

The functions of the system (from the Latin word functio) could be understood and evaluated as behavior of a system, its role or mission. In the absence of a clear definition of the “function” category, the authors describe it as a sustainable activity for the benefit of the institutions of the system (Durkheim 1956). To specify the functions, it is needed to answer the question why the systems work exactly the way they work, because behavior or characteristics of the system are determined by the role or function of the system (Ackoff, 2000, p. 221).

In the works of different scholars, functions characterize the institutional environment of innovative multi-level systems, as well as the activities of the institutions in the environment in the process of generation, distribution, use of knowledge and innovation. R. Galli and M. Teubal (1997) specify functions associated with the process of the implementation of research and development. X. Liu and S. White (2001) allocate directions of activity for the creation, dissemination and use of technological innovations in the system through research activities, production, dissemination of research results to the end user, linking different areas of scientific knowledge and education. Hekkert et al. (2007) formulate the functions in terms of explaining the changes in the technological innovation system.

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