Government Support Programmes to Promote Academic Entrepreneurship: A Principal–Agent Perspective
The commercialization of research has become a key task of universities and public research institutions. This development is partly stimulated by an increasing number of government support programmes (GSPs) that are designed to stimulate academic entrepreneurship. Nevertheless, the role that is played by this new type of actor in the innovation system is not very well understood. We use a principal–agent theory to guide our analysis of a Norwegian GSP. The programme contributes to reducing the agency problems of adverse selections and moral hazards in the relationships between the government and the actors that are involved in the commercialization of research. Key tasks include collecting and sharing information, engaging in long-term relationships with principals and agents, developing strategies and specific contractual relationships, taking higher risks for risk-averse agents and using multiple indicators. The programme also plays an institutional role by reducing goal conflicts. This approach requires a long-term effort that is generally less visible for outside stakeholders, and it is under constant pressure from short-term expectations.