The idea of an entrepreneurial university caught on fast after the American sociologist Burton R. Clark published his books on entrepreneurship in universities (Creating Entrepreneurial Universities, 1998; Sustaining Changes in Universities, 2004). Inspired by the allure of the notion of an entrepreneurial university, and by decreasing levels of state funding for universities, we undertook a study on four very active ECIU universities (ECIU = European Consortium of Innovative Universities, www.eciu.org). To evaluate and quantify their level of entrepreneurship, we extracted from Burton Clark's case studies twenty organisational practices against which a University's entrepreneurship can be measured. These twenty practices or factors in effect formed the basis for an entrepreneurship audit. During a series of interviews, the extent to which the universities are seen as entrepreneurial by the interviewees was surveyed. We showed that the practices have been implemented only to various degrees and rather unsystematically. There are important differences among the universities, to some extent depending on the level of ambition that each university has regarding each practice. There are also important similarities; especially that entrepreneurship within universities has to be welcomed and facilitated top-down, but organically occurs and develops bottom-up. Implementing entrepreneurship at universities is thus about stimulating a culture of organic intrapreneurship and we provide practical recommendations and further research options to that effect.
Higher Education Management and Policy, 2006, Vol 18, Issue 2, p. 76-103