Relationships matter: case study of a university campus incubator

Ali Ahmad, S. Ingle

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to study the nature of the incubator manager (IM)-client, client-client and client-IM-client relationships that facilitate incubation activity. Design/methodology/approach – A case study methodology was adopted for undertaking the empirical work. The case organization was an Irish Dublin-based university campus incubator. During the course of the research, which lasted six months, data were collected from high-technology client firms and the incubator management using semi-structured interviews, non-participant observation and corporate documents. Findings – Incubation is very much dependent on the quality of human relationships and occurs via a process of co-production in dyads and triads. Without the voluntary and active participation of client firms, the mechanisms that facilitate co-production break down. There is no one master incubation process, it is comprised of small micro-processes each with its own norms, dynamic and stages depending on relational quality. Research limitations/implications – The paper is based on a single case study using a qualitative, inductive and interpretive approach; the aim was analytic rather than statistical generalization, therefore, contributions are made to incubation theory. Originality/value – The research makes a number of contributions; first, the amount of interaction among the incubation parties has the potential to both positively and negatively impact the overall quality of client experiences; second, levels of interaction and relational quality among a certain category of clients in the same incubator may be higher than others based on industrial affiliation; and third, brokerage behaviour by the IM that facilitates the connection of clients in consortia or links clients individually or in groups to unrelated outside agencies, improves the overall quality of the incubation environment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)626-644
    JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Bibliographical note

    Please note Ali Ahmad was working at Dublin City University at the time of publication. The full text is not available from the repository.


    • business environment
    • case studies
    • dyads
    • incubation
    • incubators
    • Ireland
    • social interaction
    • triads


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