Diversifying Revenue Needed for Institutions of Higher Education

Diversifying Revenue

Today, institutions of higher education are being encouraged and challenged to think creatively about expanding and developing new revenue sources to support the their short-term and long-term goals. Moody’s Investors Services has outlined in its published reports how every traditional revenue stream for colleges and universities is facing some sort of pressure.

Unfortunately, the pressure on all revenue streams and sources is the result of macro-level economic, technological and public opinion shifts, and these changes are largely beyond the control of institutions.

The Moody analysts have cautioned that revenue streams will never flow as robustly as they did before 2008. It’s been stated the change will require a fundamental shift in how colleges and universities operate; one that will require more strategic thinking.

In their studies, Moody’s notes that colleges and universities will have to rely on strategic leaders that are willing to address these challenges through better use of technology to cut costs, create efficiency in their operations, demonstrate value, reach out to new markets, and prioritize its programs. However, in doing so, many of these efforts may create disputes with faculty members or other institutional constituents, unless they are able to get the collective buy-in that has been the staple of higher education governance. But with goals being established and the evolution taking place as part of the process, hopefully, there will be a more widespread understanding on all sides.

Major revenue constraints can be attributed to larger changes in the economic landscape, including lower household incomes, changes and fluctuations in the economic and federal government picture, declines in the number of high school graduates, the emergence of new technologies, and a growing interest in getting the most out of a college education – particularly as it pertains to employment after graduation. A stable fiscal picture and outlook would require improved pricing power, a sustained and truly measured decrease in the unemployment rate, improvements in the housing market, and several years of consistent stock market returns.

The traditional higher education model has been disrupted by the ability of massive open online courses, particularly by the legitimization of online education and other technological innovations. In many ways, this has signaled a fundamental shift in strategy by industry leaders to embrace these technological changes that threaten to destabilize the residential college and university’s business model over the long run.

There are other related challenges facing higher education: the growing profile of student debt, which has topped $1 trillion nationally, and default rates, and pressure on politicians and accreditation agencies to ensure the value of degrees. In addition, an alarm continues to sound over a potential student loan bubble and the diminishing affordability of higher education.

One way for colleges and universities to get students, and their parents, to pay for higher tuition is by demonstrating that the outcomes – including their campus experience, postgraduate employment, graduate school enrollment, and long-term success and happiness – are well worth the tuition and future job pay. Students and their parents want to know, “What am I getting for my investment?” As a result, recruiters have a tougher job “selling” a traditional education with the cost of education continuing to escalate.

But the on campus education and living and learning experience are the “door openers.” As I like to say, “We are a product of our environment.” Making the right friends, building relationships with influential professors, administrators, parents and relatives of friends, and fraternity brothers or sorority sisters all get added into the equation of the student’s environment. In retrospect, students may forget or never use half of what they learn, but the connections and friends they make and the experiences they have while in college are priceless.

Over 1/3 of the colleges and universities in the nation are experiencing some sort of financial crisis. Many have gone from operating full operating budgets to a comfortable black to a severely red. And cash reserves have dropped, as well as endowments.

Without a doubt, the university must find new revenue sources. Attracting more out-of-state and international students is one additional source of revenue for these institutions.

We must never lose sight of the fact of the importance of investing in higher education. Educating the young is of primary importance. Devising ways to maximize time and money, such as integrating class projects and research that might result in publication is another alternative to consider.

Allowing and/or expanding commercialism on the campus may provide added sources of revenue. Examples could include allowing corporate naming rights to athletic facilities or increased advertising signage inside arenas and stadiums. This may seem drastic and some may even say, “You have to pick your poison” in being creative to increase your revenue streams.

Attempting to reduce the university’s “discount rate,” the percentage of the total tuition bill for the entire student body that the university waives to grant financial aid to its students is one possibility. But that can be risky business. Any move to reduce the discount rate potentially upsets an exceedingly delicate balance. Looking to attract families that are able and willing to pay full or near full tuition, while simultaneously making the school accessible to less wealthy students, and hitting the right mark, granting merit aid to lure high-potential students who might later benefit the school and broader community, may be one possibility to work in achieving a better balance among the many factors that feed enrollment. Additionally, stepping-up the fundraising efforts to offset any potential rising discount rate may also be helpful.

Another factor to think about is the amount of construction the institution may be having on campus, especially during campus tours, to determine the effect, it may or has caused in any dips in the recruiting process. Even though construction on campus is a sign of growth and improvement, in the short-term it is not always the most attractive thing for students to see and hear on campus, or experience during a campus tour with their parents.

Institutions of higher education must also anticipate any approaching demographic shifts. They may have to grapple with an economic and social environment in which more families bargain for the best deals among different schools. If this is the case, the institutions should consider making their best offers up-front first and try to avoid drawn-out negotiations.

Students are creating more choices for themselves and they have more access to more choices. The internet makes it easier for students to research and apply to more schools.

Some of the private institutions have held back from the tuition-hiking trend, and some have even cut tuition costs in an effort to attract more students. Other schools have taken more unconventional measures, such as freezing tuition, offering three-year degree programs, or giving students four-year graduation guarantees. They are doing this with the goal of increasing enrollment levels that will more than offset the reductions being made, thereby providing more overall revenue without sacrificing the student’s education.

But also since the economic downturn, private colleges and universities across the nation have redoubled efforts to cut their operating costs, improve their efficiency, and enhance their affordability in order to stay within reach of families from all backgrounds. You cannot lose sight of that. Making it work has to be done on both ends; cutting costs and increasing revenues.

Other strategies that could be considered to increase the enrollment and revenue streams at institutions of higher education could include the following:

  • Segmenting search to target upper profile students with different messages;
  • Increasing scholarship levels (while still maintaining net revenue needs);
  • Targeting out-of-state students or students outside of traditional markets;
  • Targeting high school honors programs;
  • Holding a scholarship recognition day;
  • Stressing off-campus opportunities such as internships and study abroad;
  • Promoting graduate school placements and outcomes; and
  • Developing high profile academic majors, pre-professional programs, or new majors and programs to support enrollment growth.

Additional considerations for increasing revenue streams might include:

  • Review the individual educational programs in-place and revenues provided by each and coverage of direct costs and determine what changes should be made, if any;
  • Acceleration of the 4 year degree programs into 3 to 3 ½ year programs to save on tuition and utilize it as a marketing tool for recruiting, but do so without short changing the student’s education;
  • Providing an automatic 2-year graduate scholarship at the university for students who enroll in a 4 year undergrad program and meet and maintain a defined GPA level and other pre-defined standards and goals of the university. Use as a tool for marketing and recruitment;
  • Having a full-time grant application aid/seeker for the university searching for state and federal funds, as well as working with faculty and staff to develop research projects for funding and using as educational programs for the students;
  • Establishing joint and cooperative programs with other universities in the US and abroad for recruiting;
  • Consider an overall re-evaluation of the recruiting process for identifying and “going after” potential students, thereby expanding the horizons and outreach;
  • Obtaining more exposure on a “national and multi-state” level;
  • Determine if any new programs should be added, programs dropped, or enhanced and/or expanded;
  • Develop tools for “presenting a plan” and a “comprehensively designed package” for financing and paying the cost for education;
  • Reaching-out to alumni and friends for enhanced ways to provide for contributions to the university through annuities, insurance, and other charitable giving techniques and products; and
  • Developing relationships with corporate sponsors for grants and contributions and placements for graduating students.

Conclusion

For the suggestions mentioned about possible new revenue source considerations to support the institution’s short-term and long-term goals, it will be important to develop predictive financial modeling tools for testing the proposed changes and outcomes to the enrollment levels and the projected effects on the revenue streams and the overall bottom line.

In doing all of this we must never lose sight of the fact that education prepares graduates to lead lives of achievement, contribution and meaning. And, as I like to say, “The Students will become a Product of their Environment.”

The Cost of Not Having Higher Education

If you’ve considered going to school for a college degree, then you’ve considered tuition costs, textbook fees and travel expenses. People also turn to online education to extend and expand their career options. Online classes eliminate textbook and travel costs and offer an economical solution to rising tuition of traditional education. While it’s true that quality online programmes and degree programs aren’t free, they are affordable, especially when you consider the cost of not having a higher education at all.

Gaining higher education has a direct effect on your career. In fact, statistics show that the higher the level of education, the higher the amount in earnings a person will receive, proving that continuing education past a high school level is the best way to hold on to a career and achieve financial success.

Higher education is vital to remain competitive in the job market. According to “The Book of Knowledge” put out by Merrill Lynch, 50 percent of employee skills become outdated in three to five years. In India, nine out of 10 employees in an international workplace survey said they feared that their current skills would be outdated within five years. On the company side, the cost of replacing lost talent averages to 150 percent of a person’s salary (Mercer Survey of Australia at Work). This makes a strong case for companies and employees to invest in higher education to upgrade and update skill sets. Gaining certification allows you to re-train to ensure you can keep the job you have or easily transfer to another position. Taking online courses is an affordable and fast way to earn a certificate that confirms you have the skills that meet the demands of a continuously changing industry.

Credentials are everything. Think about it. Would you go to a dentist who only has a high school diploma framed on the wall? Would you hire a lawyer who dropped out of college before gaining full expertise in law? You feel more comfortable paying a person more money when you trust that they know what they are doing and have the education and certification to back it up. To convince employers and customers you have the skills to do the job, certifications and degree programs are the way to go.

Higher wages brought on by higher education isn’t new. In the early 1900’s, education was scarce and only a minority of adults had a high school diploma. Working life was dictated by supply of labor and the demand for skilled workers; formal education was not necessary to do the job. As society has continued to evolve, annual earnings of workers increased with education. In the 1970’s, as technological changes started to occur, the corporate world favoured a more educated working population and started compensating generously to attract educated employees. By 1975, full-time workers with a higher education earned 1.5 times the annual wage of workers with a high school diploma. And, by 1999, this ratio had edged up to 1.8.

Statistics prove that gaining higher education and achieving certification is the best way to get the expertise you need to land a more lucrative career.

An Entrepreneurial Development Framework for Institutions of Higher Education

Introduction

With increased globalization people have seen the need to increase wealth creation especially within the underdeveloped Third World. It has also become evident that neither the government nor the formal sector can supply the necessary job creation without a sustained effort and partnerships between all sectors of the economy. One means of creating work opportunities will be the development of entrepreneurial and innovative skills within the country. The creation of such job opportunities by encouraging entrepreneurial innovation has been well illustrated by Dana, Korot and Tovstiga (2005:12) in Silicon Valley, Israel, Singapore and the Netherlands. These authors report that in the narrow 35 mile by 10 mile corridor within Silicon Valley 6,500 technology enterprises are located. Singapore is home to almost 100,000 entrepreneurs and had a per capita GDP of US$42,948.00 during 2004 and an annual growth rate of 8.8% (Singapore Statistics, 2006).

In addition higher education has become a prime export commodity of total world services trade, amounting to a staggering 3% (Grundling & Steynberg, 2006:5). With the increased interest in entrepreneurial innovation as an economic driver there is a need to develop expertise within this area. Thus there is a need to develop entrepreneurial innovation knowledge within higher education institutions to ensure the maintenance of a competitive edge in an under developed market. Dana, et al. (2005:10) define knowledge as “the integration of information, ideas, experience, intuition, skills and lessons learned that creates added value for a firm”. In addition Dana et el. (2005) define innovation as “the process by which knowledge is transformed into new or significantly modified products and/or services that establish the firm’s competitive edge”. It can thus be seen that it is imperative that higher education in South Africa actively pursue a policy to encourage entrepreneurial innovation to ensure the creation of expertise, the development of new industries and the empowering of students to establish themselves within an entrepreneurial innovative culture. Higher education will be required to become a key player in domesticating knowledge and diffusing it into the economy in order to serve as engines for community development and social renewal (Grundling & Steynberg, 2006:6).

Problem statement

The research question under discussion is formulated as What minimum requirements should be set in an entrepreneurial and innovation framework in order to support entrepreneurial and innovation knowledge creation at institutions of higher education?

Purpose

This article attempts to develop a framework to encourage entrepreneurial thinking within a higher education environment, taking into account consideration policy and infrastructural requirements, knowledge creation fundamentals and institutional arrangements.

Policy intervention

Policy initiatives within higher education institutions are essential to establish guidance for entrepreneurs, funding agencies, industry, labour in general and for students and institutions of higher education in particular. From a higher education perspective government as well as institutional policy requirements will be discussed in brief.

·Government policies

If this is to be accomplished it will require government intervention to construct policies which should include the reduction of taxation in the form of capital gains tax rate, providing incentives for increased spending on research and development, encouraging active venture capital markets, an alteration of the ‘hiring and firing’ labour regulations, and encouraging the spending on new technology shares (Da Rin, Nicodano & Sembenelli, 2005:8).

·The higher education institution policies

The higher education institution must provide a working atmosphere in which entrepreneurship can thrive. Venkataraman (2003:154) proposes that it is not merely the injection of capital that enhances the development of entrepreneurship. Rather, it is the tangible infrastructural essentials such as capital markets, advanced telecommunications, sound legal and transportation systems. In addition, intangible components must be in place. These intangibles are access to novel ideas, informal forums, role models, region specific opportunities, access to large markets, safety nets and executive leadership. As policy within the institution is developed it must consider and include a planning process to accommodate these essentials.

Policy must also augment the entrepreneurial culture within the higher education institution as a new mindset of students must be established from one of expecting to be employed, to one of providing work opportunities for others. Technology licensing offices (TLOs) must be established at the higher education institutions. Stanford University sponsored research expenditures of US$391 million generated 25 TLO start ups in 1997 (Gregorio & Shane, 2003:209). An investment in patent rights by the higher education institutions will ensure future capital investments into the institution. Intellectual property (IP) policies should be framed so as to capture the wealth generated and to distribute it equitably between investors, partners, the university and the entrepreneur. Such rewards will generate future interest for both the investors and the entrepreneurs. Policies, procedures and network contacts to capture venture capital must be established.

Research and Development policies in entrepreneurship must be refined and focused. Currently, the focus of entrepreneurial research at Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa falls within the three niche areas of business clustering, business development and management of innovation. In each of these niche areas it will be necessary to develop Masters and Doctorate programmes in entrepreneurship and innovation. This in turn will mean a need for the improvement of the staff qualification profile within these areas. Along with the Masters and Doctorate programmes, accredited research outputs must be produced in entrepreneurship and innovation (Grundling & Steynberg, 2006:6). In addition to the Masters degrees in Entrepreneurship and the Masters degree in Comparative Local Development, a Masters degree in Cognitive Reasoning should be considered for the future. Such a course should include a thorough foundation in finance reasoning along with creative thinking and business planning.

Institutional structures to be established

The higher education institution will have to establish itself as a seamless knowledge node into which a variety of parties can contribute. Parties contributing to such a knowledge node might include industrial partners, specialists from industry, relevant government agencies, foreign investors, community forums, labour unions, academic specialists, research foundations, funding agencies, students and potential entrepreneurs. Such a node would provide the necessary contact between entrepreneurs, funding agencies, industry and labour. This will ensure exposure of research and innovative ideas to the relevant parties. It would also provide a relevant export/import platform for entrepreneurship within the country. In addition to this, regular colloquia should be held to allow potential entrepreneurs to expose their innovative ideas to the funding agencies. An information network connecting entrepreneurs to venture capitalists should be established within this knowledge node.

Such forums would allow industrial partners to present commercially-oriented research proposals to the higher education institution which funding agencies in turn would be willing to fund. Gregorio and Shane (2003:212) also emphasize the need for the higher education institution to demonstrate intellectual eminence. It is suggested that better quality researchers are more likely to exploit inventions than lesser qualified researchers. The intellectual eminence also makes it easier for researchers involved to start enterprises and to exploit their inventions (Gregorio & Shane, 2003:212). In addition, more eminent researchers provide a better knowledge base and this in turn will attract better qualified researchers and students. To ensure an intellectual eminence of their outputs, higher education institutions should select students carefully.

The higher education institution should also encourage the development of incubators, either close to the institution or close to the involved industry. This will certainly influence the start up capital expenditure. Gregorio and Shane (2003:213) suggest that such incubators would allow entrepreneurs to “ripen” technologies in close proximity to inventors and specialists.

The establishment of technology parks could be instituted at the institution. Dana, et al. (2005:12) report that the first technology parks were established in the Netherlands. It is hardly surprising that the Netherlands is one of the leading nations in promoting entrepreneurship, comparing favourably with Israel, Singapore and Silicone Valley. Perhaps such parks could be established in conjunction with the government and serve to expose students to the entrepreneurial culture.

Information networks connecting entrepreneurs to venture capitalists should be established within the higher education institution. Dushnitsky and Lenox (2004:618) reinforce this view. Gregorio and Shane (2003:214) also recommend that in exchange for taking an equity stake in TLO start-ups the institution should pay patenting, marketing or other up-front costs. These measures would encourage the formation of start-up enterprises. Furthermore, locating a higher education institutional foundation presence in physical proximity to the enterprises donating the capital might be an advantage (Gregorio & Shane, 2003:211).

Strategy to develop an entrepreneurial innovative culture

·Re-curriculation of syllabi within Entrepreneurship programmes

When training entrepreneurs two realms of knowledge should be recognized, “tacit” and “explicit”. “Explicit knowledge is easily identifiable, easy to articulate, capture and share. By contrast, tacit knowledge consists predominately of intuition, feelings, perceptions and beliefs, often difficult to express and therefore difficult to capture and transfer. Of the two, tacit knowledge carries the greater value in that it is the essence of innovation” (Dana et al., 2005:10). Perhaps an illustration given by Ali (2001:339) serves to illustrate the difference between the skills involved in producing an artifact. The engineer is a man of action developing mental skills but seldom having the opportunity to develop manual skills. The craftsman uses his hands more than his head, tools more than instruments and rarely uses science or mathematics. Both are geared towards inventing. The engineer is concerned with ideas and artifacts, while the craftsman is concerned with the making of artefacts. The craftsman has no ready made methods and the technique is devised during the process. The engineer draws mainly on explicit scientific skills while the craftsman draws on intuitive, tacit knowledge. This person is involved in the creation of something new, an innovative skill. The engineer’s plans and blueprints might well involve tactic knowledge.

In curriculum design one must recognize the difference between infrastructure supporting recursive skills which are typically routine in nature and infrastructure supporting the nurturing of innovation and making skills. These involve designing, innovating, communicating in groups, problem solving, face-to-face communication, idea generation and group-work (Ali, 2001:41). Brown and Duguid (1991) quoted by Ali (2001:342) make use of the expression “communities of practice” to describe the social context for developing work, learning and innovation. Lin, Li and Chen (2004:4) and Markman and Baron (2003:291) make use of the term “social capital” to describe the ability to establish networks of supporting relationships. This ability is seen as a means of mobilizing environmental resources to overcome obstacles and threats within the entrepreneurial process. Others have noted how important social capital is in the creation of new business ventures. Lin, et al. (2004:4) recognize the need for formal and informal funding relationships within the business environment. Such entrepreneurs are termed “business angels” for they gain access to required resources, such as capital investors, suitable distributors and talented employees from the external environment. Lin, et al. (2004:6) thus regard social capital as “entrepreneurial social infrastructure”. Harris, Forbes and Fletcher (2000:125-126) suggest that planning “dampens” the entrepreneurial spirit and that emergent problems tended to be better training triggers than planned approaches. It is proposed that the learning style for entrepreneurs should be one using facilitators, learning by doing, interactive classroom approaches, peer group work, problem solving, grasping opportunities and holistic approaches. It is recommended that inputs should be made by outside speakers and entrepreneurs (Harris, et al., 2000:126). Johnson (1987:31, in Harris et al., 2000) states that an entrepreneur’s planned approach to any problem should be problem awareness, problem diagnosis, the development of solutions and the selection of a solution. Once again the need for “an emergent” approach rather than a “planned approach” is emphasized. In addition, Harris, et al. (2000:133) emphasize the need for long standing close relationships in the development of the entrepreneur. Such partners can share vision, and serve as sounding boards for ideas and concerns. These relationships are vital for the development of innovative thinking. The findings suggest that entrepreneurs must be trained in a less structured way, which involve group work, class discussions, specialist input, a concentration of social skills, communicating and conflict management. The methodology must involve face to face contact and the developing of lasting relationships.

Another factor that should be written into the curriculum is the ability to deal with problems that arise and then to reschedule goals so as to accommodate the new situation. This is clearly illustrated by Ireland, Kuratko and Morris (2006:12) showing the presence of internal and external triggers of corporate entrepreneurship. External triggers that encourage entrepreneurship arise from developments in the external environment. These include diminishing opportunities, rapid changes in technology, labour shortages, aggressive moves by competitors, change in the market structure or regulatory threats. Internal triggers include employee rewards, directives from managers, tension between staff, problems with cost control, etc. Ireland, et al. (2006:12). Triggers for entrepreneurship may be summed up in the statement “necessity is the mother of invention”. This once again emphasis the need for trainers to concentrate on the entrepreneurial process rather than the content, with particular emphasis on change, the unexpected and resolving problems that emerge within any particular process.

Markman and Baron (2003:288) regard self-efficacy as an important success factor in developing entrepreneurs. Self-efficacy is defined as “the extent to which persons believe that they can organize effectively, execute actions to produce given attainments” (Bandura, 1997 quoted by Markman and Baron 2003:288). Successful entrepreneurs will have high self-efficacy and tend to believe that their actions will lead to a successful venture. It is also suggested that entrepreneurs need to recognize opportunities from possible businesses. In addition it is suggested that entrepreneurs need perseverance and need to be able to overcome adversity and uncertainty. The curriculum should thus contain training on self esteem, reliability, perseverance, overcoming setbacks, having a vision, setting goals and rescheduling if things go wrong.

Boussouara and Deakins (1999:204) suggest that a gradual approach into a high technology business can be an advantage in that it allows time to develop contacts, strategy, and networks as well as gives time to acquire funding and income. The latter authors emphasize the need to acquire market-based knowledge for a successful business (Boussouara & Deakins, 1999:205). It is thus recommended that networks and external business agents present relevant market research to the trainees. These findings should be brainstormed and shared in the larger group.

Conclusion

In this article an attempt has been made to develop a framework for the development of entrepreneurial thinking within a higher education environment. This framework needs to be supported by government policy initiatives and include taxation incentives for entrepreneurs, encouraging investment in research and development, incentives for industry for active venture capital and alterations to the labour law to accommodate small entrepreneurial industries. In addition techno-parks should be developed in conjunction with government to expose students to the entrepreneurial culture.

Research should be done within the business development niche area to investigate these policies and communicate the needs to government. If government officials are participating in the knowledge node it might provide the necessary exposure to government.

Policy initiatives from within the higher education institution should establish the knowledge node which should include academic specialists, research foundations, relevant government officials, industrial partners, specialists from industry, foreign investors, community forums, labour unions, funding agencies, students and potential entrepreneurs. Information networks connecting entrepreneurs to venture capitalists should be established within this knowledge node. Intellectual Property policies should be developed by the business development niche area to ensure that possible TLO start-ups within the higher education institution are protected and that patenting, marketing or other up-front costs are paid by the higher education institution or associated enterprises. The higher education institution could liaise with the Innovation Hub established in conjunction with the CSIR. A cooperation agreement could benefit both parties. Research should be carried out by the business clustering niche area to select the most appropriate combinations and networking within the knowledge node.

To ensure intellectual eminence the correct researchers, academics and industrialists should be chosen within the entrepreneurship cluster. Incubators and TLOs should be founded to “ripen’ developing technologies and to form small innovative industries. Research within this area could be done by the niche areas business development and management of innovation.

A funding agency for the entrepreneurship innovation (previously termed the institutional foundation) could be located close to the industry partners for fundraising. All three niche areas should be actively networked with industries on an ongoing basis, communicating needs and proposals.

A teaching strategy should be developed to foster tacit knowledge development. Group work, problem solving, idea generation, innovating, designing and face to face communication should be extensively used. Smaller classrooms need to be utilized allowing for group work. Curricula should include topics like self efficacy, perseverance and the need to overcome adversity. In addition market-based knowledge should be presented by specialists from the industry on an ongoing basis. Networking should be a normal part of the curriculum and will allow venture capitalists to be connected to the innovations developed within the knowledge node.

If South Africa and institutions of higher education do not see the need to develop entrepreneurship within all communities, people may be delegated to a life of poverty, with no opportunity to work or to develop South Africa’s rich natural resources for future generations.

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