Fostering Entrepreneurship Through Business Incubation: The Role and Prospects of Postsecondary Vocational-Technical Education. Report 2: Case Studies

Publication September 1996

This is the second in a series of three reports on the role and prospects of two-year colleges in promoting community development through business incubation and related services. This report presents nine case studies featuring business incubators operating under contrasting settings and organization schemes. Insights on the experiences of managers and entrepreneurs in business incubators operating under different sponsorship arrangements, including support from twoyear colleges, can be found in Report 1 (Hernández-Gantes, Sorensen, & Nieri, 1996a). A summary of opportunities to expand the contribution of community colleges on economic development through business incubation and related services is provided in Report 3 of this series (Hernández-Gantes et al., 1996b).

Case studies have been widely used both as instructional resources and as a powerful form of research inquiry. Instructional applications can be found extensively in business, law, and education. As a research approach, the case study is driven by an interest in individual or collective cases to help understand a particular phenomenon in a given setting. Thus, the value of this case study research to practitioners and policymakers lies in the potential contributions to better understanding entrepreneurship in business incubation and the role of postsecondary vocational-technical institutions in supporting entrepreneurship development in various case scenarios.

The case studies presented here represent a complementary research strategy to a national survey of entrepreneurs in business incubation, including those in incubators affiliated with postsecondary vocational-technical institutions and colleges. The survey provided quantitative information about experiences of business incubator managers and clients. However, we felt it was necessary to complement the national survey with case studies for the following reasons. First, based on low return rates obtained by other researchers in survey efforts (e.g., National Business Incubation Association), we anticipated conducting case studies as an opportunity to verify survey information via experiences and personal insights of business incubator managers, entrepreneurs in and out of incubation, two-year college staff and faculty, and postsecondary students interested in entrepreneurial opportunities. Second, case studies provide contextual information on efforts to foster entrepreneurship in various community scenarios which will assist in understanding different approaches. Third, case studies allowed us to provide rich characterizations of efforts implemented by community-technical postsecondary institutions, and detailed descriptions of opportunities for participation in fostering entrepreneurship in the community.

This document includes nine case studies derived from the research on entrepreneurship conducted by the National Center for Research in Vocational Education. Case study descriptions revealed current efforts of two-year technical colleges to support the economic development of the community by working in partnership with business incubators, offering entrepreneurship courses and other related services to local entrepreneurs. These cases are organized in three categories representing efforts conducted in rural, urban, and suburban settings. Within these categories, case studies describe partnerships between postsecondary vocational institutions and business incubators, partnerships between community agencies and business incubators, and individual efforts by postsecondary institutions. Case studies are intended to be used as a discussion piece to guide efforts in identifying opportunities for postsecondary institutions’ expanded role in the economic development of communities and as instructional and learning materials.

Hernández-Gantes, V. M., Sorensen R. P., & Nieri, A. H. (1996, September). Fostering entrepreneurship through business incubation: The role and prospects of postsecondary vocational-technical education. Report 2: Case studies. Berkeley, CA: National Center for Research in Vocational Education.

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