Small Business Economics

, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 153–173 | Cite as

Neither absent nor too present: the effects of the engagement of parent universities on the performance of academic spin-offs

  • Marco Ferretti
  • Salvatore Ferri
  • Raffaele FiorentinoEmail author
  • Adele Parmentola
  • Alessandro Sapio


There is a lack of studies regarding the impact of parent-child relationships on the growth of academic spin-offs (ASOs). The aim of this paper is to investigate whether the presence of the parent university can affect a new venture’s ability to create value after the spin-off is founded. We analyze the engagement of parent universities by examining their different roles in ownership structures and on boards of directors, and we test theoretical hypotheses using a sample of 194 Italian ASOs. Overall, our findings suggest that “neither absent nor too present” is the strategy that the parent university should adopt to support the growth of its spin-offs. These findings contribute to extending the parent-child approach to studies of ASO performance. We provide suggestions for ownership and board composition decisions after spin-off to help universities configure ex ante appropriate actions for the growth of new ventures.


Academic spin-offs New ventures Universities Performance Academic entrepreneurship Parent-child approach 

JEL classification

L25 L26 M13 



This study was funded by the University of Naples Parthenope.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management and Quantitative StudiesUniversità di Napoli ParthenopeNaplesItaly
  2. 2.Department of Accounting, Management, and EconomicsUniversità di Napoli ParthenopeNaplesItaly

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