Entrepreneurial decision making in academic spinoffs: a bibliometric map and research agenda

Andrea Caputo, Massimiliano M. Pellegrini, Argyro Nikiforou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In recent decades, universities have put considerable emphasis on their ‘Third Mission’ and have thus expanded their portfolio of core activities to include activities related to university-industry collaboration and science commercialisation. An important mechanism to implement the university’s third mission is the creation of academic spinoffs that are start-ups based on research produced at universities and other public research institutions. Research on academic spinoffs has thus experienced significant growth, and several literature reviews have sought to map the often-fragmented knowledge in this topic area. Yet, we still lack an overview of the decision making of academic entrepreneurs and relevant stakeholders–an overview that is of paramount importance in the effort of scholars and policy-makers to understand what drives the creation of (more) academic spinoffs that have good chances of surviving and thriving. This paper is based on 60 papers published during the period 2003–2021 and provides a comprehensive overview of all topics covered in the body of literature on the entrepreneurial decision making of academic spinoffs, by identifying the most salient topics, papers, and trends within this literature. Our analysis shows that the literature on the topic clusters around four macro-areas: contextual factors, spinoff development and performance, nascent academic entrepreneurship, and science parks. Our study further compares and contrasts our findings with the highly influential framework for entrepreneurial decision making of Shepherd, Williams, and Patzelt [2015. “Thinking About Entrepreneurial Decision Making: Review and Research Agenda.” Journal of Management 41 (1): 11–46] and proposes future research directions in light of the unique characteristics of academic entrepreneurs and academic spinoffs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)2022-2038
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Academic spinoffs
  • Bibliometric analysis
  • Decision making
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Systematic literature review


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