RMIT University
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Stakeholder Expectations in University Business Incubators – An Investigation of Performance Management Systems

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posted on 2024-06-05, 22:33 authored by Leonie Koenig
Entrepreneurship is crucial in strengthening innovation and promoting economic wealth. Business Incubators (BIs) are set up to assist such development by providing business consulting and physical spaces to start-ups, as well as fostering inter-actions between government, industry and universities. BIs’ sources of funding may depend on the above-mentioned stakeholders which all display expectations and demands over BI reporting and outcomes. Performance management systems (PMSs) may reflect those expectations depending on BIs’ prevailing values and beliefs, which are referred to as Institutional Logics. However, clear inconsistencies among BIs’ PMSs have been observed. In investigating BIs’ logics, in this thesis I address how PMSs are shaped and challenged by a multiplicity of stakeholders. A multi-method, comparative case-study between two life-science BIs, in Italy and Australia, including document analyses and semi-structured interviews, is applied. The results demonstrate that a bureaucratic logic inspires the integration of certain performance measures (KPIs) to legitimise actions in front of public funders in both cases. In BI-Australia, performance improvement is driven by a community logic with a focus on start-up support through informal mechanisms. In BI-Italy, a community IL leads attention to societal welfare, as expected by the regional government. The decoupling between start-up incubation activities and socio-economic impact causes the development of a business logic for BI-Italy, with the aim to financially grow itself through the collecting of international funding for in-house research. This study demonstrates how the requests for short-term socio-economic impact and BIs’ decoupled operational activities challenge the BI business concept. This adds to the accounting, entrepreneurship and innovation literatures by creating a more in-depth understanding of BI performance in relation to institutional logics and stakeholders’ influence. From a practical perspective, it shows how BIs balance start-up support and stakeholder expectations through their PMSs.


Degree Type

Doctorate by Research


© Leonie Koenig 2024

School name

Acct, Info Sys & Supply Chain, RMIT University