Spin-off enterprises as a means of technology commercialisation in a transforming economy - Evidence from three universities in China
Recently, some university spin-off firms have begun to substantially contribute to the technological upgrading of China's economy. The corresponding academic literature, however, does not yet deal with spin-off activities of Chinese universities in a comprehensive and theoretically sound way. Currently, most articles on Chinese spin-offs focus on case studies of the most prominent government-sponsored enterprises in Beijing. This paper aims to contribute to the literature in a more comprehensive manner by providing a theoretical discussion of spin-off formation in a developing and transforming economy, and by presenting results from a comparative study based on data from 82 interviews with spin-off enterprises in three metropolitan regions in China. The study shows that under the initial framework conditions, government-driven spin-off formation has indeed proved an appropriate solution for technology transfer at Chinese universities. Many of the companies thus formed, however, suffer from defective incentive structures and lack of performance. Consequently, since lifting or easing restrictive regulations, the formerly unique model of Chinese spin-off formation has been complemented by a surge of entrepreneurial spin-off formation.