What matters in business incubation? A literature review and a suggestion for situated theorising


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to provide a critical assessment of the literature on business incubation effectiveness and second, to submit a situated theoretical perspective on how business incubation management can provide an environment that supports the development of incubatee entrepreneurs and their businesses. Design/methodology/approach – The paper provides a narrative critical assessment of the literature on business incubation effectiveness. Definitional issues, performance aspects and approaches to establishing critical success factors in business incubation are discussed. Business incubation management is identified as an overarching factor for theorising on business incubation effectiveness. Findings – The literature on business incubation effectiveness suffers from several deficiencies, including definitional incongruence, descriptive accounts, fragmentation and lack of strong conceptual grounding. Notwithstanding the growth of research on this domain, understanding of how entrepreneurs and their businesses develop within the business incubator environment remains limited. Given the importance of relational, intangible factors in business incubation and the critical role of business incubation management in orchestrating and optimising such factors, it is suggested that theorising efforts would benefit from a situated perspective. Originality/value – The identification of specific shortcomings in the literature on business incubation highlights the need for more systematic efforts towards theory building. It is suggested that focusing on the role of business incubation management from a situated learning theory perspective can lend itself to a more profound understanding of the development process of incubatee entrepreneurs and their firms. Theoretical propositions are offered to this effect, as well as avenues for future research.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/JSBED-09-2014-0152
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Work & Organisational Psychology
Additional Information: This article is © Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/JSBED-09-2014-0152. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Funding: ESRC for supporting the project on which this work is based (ES/J001538/1)
Uncontrolled Keywords: business incubation effectiveness,business incubation management,business incubation performance,business incubation success factors,situated learning theory,Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous),Strategy and Management
Publication ISSN: 1758-7840
Last Modified: 06 May 2024 07:12
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2015 13:50
Full Text Link: http://www.emer ... ED-09-2014-0152
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2014
Authors: Theodorakopoulos, Nicholas (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-2262-0054)
Kakabadse, Nada K.
McGowan, Carmel



Version: Accepted Version

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