The range of legitimatization strategy and regional entrepreneurship (evidence from the cases of the academic spin-off process in Japan

Jin-ichiro Yamada, Kumi Matsuoka


This paper focuses on the roles of regional entrepreneurship, especially university researchers and the effectiveness of their legitimization in the process of establishing academic spin-off ventures for the commercialisation of new technologies. Using regional universityoriginated spin-off cases, we compare and analyse processes by which various dilemma arise in the course of legitimization to derive the viewpoint of “the range of legitimization”. Interweaving the theoretical arguments and our findings based on the comparative case studies, the regional entrepreneur in academic spin-off faces the two problems with deploying the legitimizing strategy. The first is the dilemma between partial (or local) rationality and total (or global) rationality. The second is the dilemma between pre-rationality and post-rationality. Hence, both the increase of various actors involved and the speed of growth stages of academic spin-off ventures constrain the effectiveness of their initial legitimization. We call it “the range of legitimization” as the new analytical framework to clarify those issues. This study contributes to a nascent research stream interested in the dilemmaical concept of regional academic entrepreneurship which is brought about from the interaction between the various stakeholders that have been prevailing and competing for dominance for several decades in the university-industry relationship in order to fit the current institutional change. As for practical implications, the dilemma of legitimizing and the consensus building taking account of the fragile and contingent nature of legitimacy are two significant issues for the management of relationships between entrepreneurs and various interested parties. It is essential for university researchers to utilise various sources of legitimacy necessary at each stage of the commercialisation of new technologies. Regional entrepreneurs strategically call for foreseeing sources of legitimacy necessary in the future according to environmental changes inside and outside the spin-offs.


Legitimatization; regional entrepreneurship; University spin-off

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