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Foreign‐born academic scientists: entrepreneurial academics or academic entrepreneurs?

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Although foreign‐born scholars make up a significant portion of the US professoriate, little is known about how their ‘foreign‐born’ identity directly or indirectly affects their entrepreneurial prowess. This article integrates role identity theory with theoretical arguments from social network and cultural proximity theories to examine whether foreign‐born academic scientists can better be characterized as entrepreneurial academics (strong government grant productivity) or academic entrepreneurs (strong involvement in the creation and commercialization of university‐invented technologies). Our analysis indicates that foreign‐born academic scientists seem more successful in attracting research resources, but are less successful in exploiting their inventions through entrepreneurial activities. They can therefore be best described as entrepreneurial academics. These findings may partially explain the tepid performance of many research‐intensive universities in terms of technology transfer and commercialization. We discuss the policy implications of our findings and provide guidance for academic entrepreneurs.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2012


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