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University support systems for sustainable entrepreneurship: insights from explorative case studies

Published Online:pp 83-110

In recent years public policy has increasingly recognised the importance of entrepreneurship for sustainable economic growth and solving fundamental challenges such as climate change. It is emphasised that universities should play an important role in supporting sustainable entrepreneurship by sensitising and educating future sustainable entrepreneurs. Up till now there has hardly been any research on university support systems for sustainable entrepreneurship. We address this research gap with a qualitative multi-case study of four universities in the USA and Germany, based on 41 good practice examples. Using an open innovation concept, we developed a conceptual framework that is based on an interactive paradigm and allows comprehensive support systems analysis. We identified top-down, bottom-up and combined implementation strategies as well as integrative and additive approaches. The framework is suitable for empirical investigations and supports future research. Our results demonstrate the importance of the institutional framing of support activities and indicate that, in comparison with other elements of the university support system, research on sustainable entrepreneurship is lagging behind.


sustainable entrepreneurship, university support systems, good practice cases, entrepreneurial universities, sustainable universities