Identifying the effective factors in creating entrepreneurial regional ecosystem: The case of Islamic Azad Universities in Isfahan province

Document Type : Case study


Department of Management, Payame Noor University(PNU), P, O,Box 19395-3697, Tehran, Iran.


The entrepreneurial ecosystem, including actors and related factors, creates productive entrepreneurship in a specific territory. Among these actors, universities can play an important role in the knowledge-based economy; therefore, they could be a factor in the dynamism of the regional economy. The purpose of this descriptive survey was to investigate the effective academic factors in making a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. To this end, 306 faculty members were randomly selected from Islamic Azad Universities in Isfahan province. The data collection tool was a researcher-made questionnaire. Its face validity was confirmed by the research supervisor, and two experts. Applying Cronbach's alpha, the reliability was found to be 0.812. In order to test the research hypotheses, data analysis in LISREL software environment was performed by applying structural equation model tests, exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, and one-sample t-test. The findings of confirmatory factor analysis showed that the identified main factors and components were cultural factors including promoting entrepreneurial culture, entrepreneurship education, skill training; underlying factors including human capital, knowledge production, knowledge transfer, knowledge commercialization; and structural factors including networking, growth centers and technology transfer offices, and spin-offs, which were considered as effective variables in creating a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. Using One Sample T-Test, the individuals' views on the impact of factors in making a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem were examined. In total, effective academic factors had a significant effect on creating a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. Finally, based on the results of this study suggestions and recommendations for further research have been proposed.


Acs, Z. J., Stam, E., Audretsch, D. B., and O’Connor, A. (2017). “The Lineages of The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Approach”. Small Business Economics, 49(1), pp. 1-10.‏
Acs, Z. J., Szerb, L., and Autio, E. (2016). Enhancing Entrepreneurship Ecosystems. Springer, Cham.
Alipour A, Enayati T., and Niazazari, K. (2017). “Presenting A Model for Research Spins-Off Companies Amid at Commercialization of University Research”. IRPHE, 23(1), pp. 115-136. {In Persian}
Ankrah, S., and AL-Tabbaa, O., (2015). “Universities-Industry Collaboration: A Systematic Review”. Scandinavian Journal of Management (SJM), 31(3), pp. 387–408.
Arthur, W. B. (2013). “Complexity Economics: A Different Framework for Economic Thought”. Available in: Complexity Economics: A Different Framework for Economic Thought | Santa Fe Institute
Azagra-Caro, J. M., Barberá-Tomás, D., Edwards-Schachter, M., and Tur, E.M. (2016). “Dynamic Interactions Between University-Industry Knowledge Transfer Channels: A Case Study of The Most Highly Cited Academic Patent”. Res. Policy, 46(2), pp. 463–474.
Brush C., (2013). “Does Entrepreneurship Education Matter?”. Available in:
Bueren, V., and Oliver, K. P. (2016). Accelerators, Startup Performance, And Crises. Doctoral dissertation. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Davari, A., Sefidbari, L., and Baghersad, V. (2017). “The Factors of Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Iran Based on Isenberg’s Model”. Journal of Entrepreneurship Development, 10(1), pp. 101-120. {In Persian}
Davidsson , P. (2015). “Entrepreneurial Opportunities and The Entrepreneurship Nexus: A Reconceptualization”. Journal of Business Venturing.
Dey, A. K. (2001). “Understanding and Using Context”. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 5(1), pp. 4-7.‏
Duruflé, G., Hellmann, T. F., and Wilson, K. E. (2018). “Catalysing Entrepreneurship in And Around Universities”.‏ Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 34(4), pp. 615-636
Entezari, Y. (2019). “Development Requirements of University–Based Entrepreneurship Ecosystems in Iran”. IRPHE, 25(1), pp. 1-25. {In Persian}
Faghih, N., and Zali, M. R. (ed). (2018). Entrepreneurship Education and Research in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): Perspectives on Trends, Policy and Educational Environment. Springer.
Fritsch, M., and Wyrwich, M. (2019). Regional Trajectories of Entrepreneurship, Knowledge, And Growth. Springer.
Fukugawa, N. (2015). “Characteristics of Knowledge Interactions Between Universities and Small Firms in Japan”. International Small Business Journal, 23(4).
Fuster, E., Padilla-Meléndez, A., Lockett, N., and del-Águila-Obra, A. R. (2019). “The Emerging Role of University Spin-Off Companies in Developing Regional Entrepreneurial University Ecosystems: The Case of Andalusia”. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 141, pp. 219-231.
Gibson, D. (2015). “Developing University Entrepreneurial Ecosystems for Regional Development”. DIEM: Dubrovnik International Economic Meeting, 2(1), pp. 9-19.
Hashemi, S. A., and Hazrati, A. (2016). Research methods in human sciences (second edition). Tehran: Taimaz. {In Persian}
Hayter, C. S. (2013). “Harnessing University Entrepreneurship for Economic Growth: Factors of Success Among University Spin-Offs”. Economic Development Quarterly, 27(1), pp. 18-28.
Hayter, C. S. (2016). “A Trajectory of Early-Stage Spinoff Success: The Role of Knowledge Intermediaries Within an Entrepreneurial University Ecosystem”. Small Business Economics, 47, pp. 633–656.
Hayter, C. S., Nelson, A. J., Zayed, S., and O’Connor, A. C. (2018). “Conceptualizing Academic Entrepreneurship Ecosystems: A Review, Analysis and Extension of The Literature”. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 43(4), pp. 1039-1082.
Hassanqolipour, T., Sharifi, S, M., (2020). “The position of human resources management in the commercialization of research results in universities”. Journal of Industry and University, 1(1).‌ {In Persian}
Isenberg, D. (2014). “What an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Actually is”. Available in:
Kalantaridis, C., Küttim, M., Govind, M., and Sousa, C. (2017). “How To Commercialise University- Generated Knowledge Internationally? A Comparative Analysis of Contingent Institutional Conditions”. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Change, 123, pp. 35–44.
Kelley D. J., Singer S., and Herrington M. (2012). “The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor”, Global Entrepreneurship Research Association (GERA).
Ketchen, D. J., Thomas, J. B., and McDaniel, R. R. (1996). “Process, Content and Context: Synergistic Effects on Organizational Performance”. Journal of Management, 22(2), pp. 231-257.‏
Khani Jazani, J. (2008). The principal of entrepreneurship culture. Tehran: Mehrravash. {In Persian}
Kline, R. B. (2010). Principles and Practice of Structural Equation Modeling (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Kronsbein, D., Meiser, D., and Leyer, M. (2014). “Conceptualisation Of Contextual Factors for Business Process Performance”. Proceedings of the International MultiConference of Engineers and Computer Scientists (Vol. 2), pp. 12-14.‏
Lasrado, V., Sivo, S., Ford, C., O’Neal, T., and Garibay, I. (2016). “Do Graduated University Incubator Firms Benefit from Their Relationship with University Incubators?”. J Technol Transf, 41, pp. 205–219
Link, A., and Sarala, R. (2019). “Advancing Conceptualization of University Entrepreneurship Ecosystems: The Role of Knowledge-based Entrepreneurial Firms”.  International Small Business Journal, 37(3), pp. 289–310.
Longobardi, R. (2013). Ecosistemi per l’imprenditorialità in Italia: il ruolo degli atene [Ecosystems for entrepreneurship in Italy: the role of universities]. Bachelor's thesis. Università Ca'Foscari Venezia.
Mansouri, L. (2016). Modeling university-industry relations in the field of entrepreneurship ecosystem (dynamic analysis approach) case study: Sistan and Baluchistan province. Master's thesis. University of Sistan and Baluchestan. {In Persian}
Meng, D., Li, X., and Rong, K. (2019). “Industry-To-University Knowledge Transfer in Ecosystem-Based Academic Entrepreneurship: Case Study of Automotive Dynamics & Control Group in Tsinghua University”. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 141, pp. 249-262.
Mirzaei Ahranjani, H. (2014). Philosophical foundations of organization theory. Tehran: Samt. {In Persian}
Mousavi, S. H. (2017). Presenting a model for the development of entrepreneurial university in public universities. PhD thesis, Mazandaran University. {In Persian}
Nykänen, R. (2018). Entrepreneurial Insights into Developing the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in Finland: the High Impotance of Mentoring and Networking in Nascent Entrepreneurship.
O’Reilly, N. M., Robbins, P., and Scanlan, J. (2019). “Dynamic Capabilities and the Entrepreneurial University: A Perspective on the Knowledge Transfer Capabilities of Universities”. Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, 31(3), pp. 243-263.
O'Connor, A., Stam, E., Sussan, F. and Audretsch, D. B. (2018). Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. Place-Based Transformations and Transitions. New York: Springer.
Pauwels, C., Clarysse, B., Wright, M., and Van Hove, J. (2016). “Understanding A New Generation Incubation Model: The Accelerator”. Technovation, 50, pp. 13-24.‏
Pitsakis, K., Souitaris, V., and Nicolaou, N. (2015). “The Peripheral Halo Effect: Do Academic Spinoffs Influence Universities’ Research Income?”. Journal of Management Studies, 52, pp. 321–353.
Pugh, R., Lamine, W., Jack, S., and Hamilton, E. (2018). “The Entrepreneurial University and The Region: What Role for Entrepreneurship Departments?”. European Planning Studies, 26(9), pp. 1835-1855.
Qian, H. (2018). “Knowledge-Based Regional Economic Development: A Synthetic Review of Knowledge Spillovers, Entrepreneurship, And Entrepreneurial Ecosystems”. Economic Development Quarterly, 32(2), pp. 163-176.
Rahimi, M. (2016). Exploring process model of the best accelerators activities in Iran: an exploratory multiple case study research. Thesis For Degree of Master of Science. University of Kashan. {In Persian}
Rasmussen, E., Mosey, S., and Wright, M. (2015). “The Transformation of Network Ties to Develop
Entrepreneurial Competencies for University Spin-Offs Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 27, pp. 430-457.
Redondo, M., and Camarero, C. (2019). “Social Capital in University Business Incubators: Dimensions, Antecedents and Outcomes”. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 15(2), pp. 599-624.
Ribeiro, A. T. V. B., Zancul, E. D. S., Axel-Berg, J. H., and Plonski, G. A. (2018). “Can Universities Play an Active Role in Fostering Entrepreneurship in Emerging Ecosystems? A Case Study of The University of São Paulo”. International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development, 8(1), pp. 1-22.
Saie Arasi, I. (2014). Research writing skills in social sciences. Tehran: Bahman Borna. {In Persian}
Sarmad, Z., Bazargan, A, and Hejazi, E. (2015). Research methods in behavioral sciences. Tehran: Agah. {In Persian}
Shahverdiyani, Sh. (2020). “Study of Environment Effect on Establishment & Development of the University Incubators (New Approach on Entrepreneurship University and Relation between Industry & University)”. Journal of Industry and University, 3(7), pp. 45-56. {In Persian}
Sharifzadeh, F., Razavi, S.M., Zahedi, Sh. and Najari, R. (2010). “Designing and explaining the model of factors affecting academic entrepreneurship: Designing and explaining the model of factors affecting academic entrepreneurship (case study: Payam Noor University)”. Journal of Entrepreneurship Development, 2(4), pp. 11-38. {In Persian}
Somjai, S., Girdwichai, L., and Pongsiri, T. (2019). “Promoting New Venture Creation in Thailand Through Entrepreneurship Education: Role of Entrepreneurial Awareness, Mindset and Skill Development”. Journal of Computational and Theoretical Nanoscience, 16(11), pp. 4630-4637.‏
Spigel, B. (2015). “The Relational Organization of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems”. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. 41(1), pp. 49–72.
Stam, E. (2015). “Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and Regional Policy: A Sympathetic Critique”. European Planning Studies, 23(9), pp. 1759-1769.
Stam, E. (2018). “Measuring Entrepreneurial Ecosystems”. In O’Connor, A., Stam, E., Sussan, F., and Audretsch, D. B. (ed), Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, Springer, pp. 173-197.
Stephens, N. M., Brannon, T. N., Markus, H. R., and Nelson, J. E. (2015). “Feeling At Home in College: Fortifying School‐Relevant Selves to Reduce Social Class Disparities in Higher Education”. Social issues and policy review, 9(1), pp. 1-24.
Stuetzer, M., Audretsch, D. B., Obschonka, M., Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., and Potter, J. (2018). “Entrepreneur-Ship Culture, Knowledge Spillovers and The Growth of Regions”, Regional Studies, 52(5).
Suresh, J., and Ramraj, R. (2012). “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Case Study on the Influence of Environmental Factors on Entrepreneurial Success”. European Journal of Business and Management, 4, pp. 95-101.
Urszula, W., and Adam, M. (2012). “Research-Based Spin Off Processes and Models in Different Economic Contexts, Institute for Sustainable Technologies”. National Research Institute in Radom Poland. Problemy Eksploatacji, (2), pp. 177-191.
Villani, E., Rasmussen, R., and Grimaldi, R. (2017). “How Intermediary Organizations Facilitate University– Industry Technology Transfer: Aproximity Approach”. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Chang., 114, pp. 86–102.
Wolf, C. (2018). Essays on Entrepreneurship in a Geographical Context. PhD Dissertation. Instituto Universitário de Lisboa.
Yadollahi Farsi, J. (2016). Encyclopaedia of entrepreneurship theories. Tehran: Labor and Social Security Institute. {In Persian}
Yadollahi Farsi, J., Zali, M., and Bagherifard, S. (2011). “Recognizing Affective Structural Factors on Developing Academic Entrepreneurship; The Case of University of Applied Science and Technology”. Journal of Science and Technology Policy, 4(1), pp. 17-33. {In Persian}
Zarezankova-Potevska, M. (2017). “Most Favorable Financial Instruments for Entrepreneurship Development. Knowledge”. International Journal17(4), pp. 1765–1771.
  • Receive Date: 15 April 2021
  • Revise Date: 25 July 2021
  • Accept Date: 03 August 2021
  • First Publish Date: 10 August 2021