The default path for an Entrepreneurship PhD career is in academia, i.e., a mix of research, teaching, and service to the community. However, the substantial investment made by governments and universities in promoting entrepreneurial behavior has led to a host of ‘alternate’ career paths for doctoral graduates in entrepreneurship.
University Careers for Entrepreneurship PhDs
Most large universities, public or private, in developed countries have some combination of the following:
- Startup incubator
- Business plan competition
- Academic entrepreneur program
- Venture accelerator
- Industry interaction forums
- Training for founders
- IP creation and protection service
- Proof-of-concept fund
- Research park
- Technology transfer office
- Spinout, spinoff program
The intent, of course, is to promote entrepreneurship amongst students, faculty, and the broader community. Each of these requires skilled resources to raise funding, persuade stakeholders, and deliver measurable entrepreneurship outcomes. Thus, they offer alternative paths for an Entrepreneurship PhD career – one that is not aligned with research and teaching, but with building institutions and capabilities instead.
Clearly, these are ‘roads rarely taken’ since they fall outside the mainstream career choice for entrepreneurship scholars. Doctorate programs in entrepreneurship are designed to develop research skills in anticipation of an academic career focused on peer-reviewed publications. In addition, they nurture pedagogical skills and an attitude service towards the (research) community.
Nevertheless, entrepreneurship PhD students should evaluate these career options, especially during their time at the university. Being part of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem may be as fulfilling for some as research-oriented careers are for others.