Social support for academic entrepreneurship: definition and conceptual framework: definition and conceptual framework

Marie Gubbins, Denis Harrington, Peter Hines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to draw on literature underpinning social support to explore individual level considerations when designing social support systems for academic entrepreneurs. Design/methodology/approach: The paper draws from literature in the fields of entrepreneurship, organisational support, stress and coping, and conservation of resources theory to conceptualise social support in an academic entrepreneurship setting. Findings: Provides an expanded definition and a framework of social support. The definition signals the complex nature of delivering social support by considering mechanisms through which the concept is operationalised. These include the content of social support, relationships it occurs within, mode of delivery of support and finally outcomes of such support. A social support influencer pentagram is presented of elements that, together, or separately may affect how individuals seek, receive or perceive support in the academic entrepreneurship context. The framework may also have implications for organisations in other contexts. Research limitations/implications: Future research should explore the content, delivery mode and timing of support sought and/or received and perceived as helpful and the types of relationships within which these might occur. The impact of this on academic entrepreneurship and variation of these inputs and outputs with respect to the types of actors involved should be considered. It underscores the need, in empirical research, for in-depth understanding of the context of each incident of support regardless of organisational context. Practical implications: This paper illustrates the challenges of designing a supportive culture and the conceptual contribution forewarns policy makers of the need to design multi-faceted, flexible and adaptive social support systems. Originality/value: This paper seeks to establish the value and complex nature of social support as a medium to encourage academic entrepreneurship by providing a broader definition of social support and a framework of elements that may affect whether individuals seek, receive or perceive support within the academic entrepreneurship setting. To our knowledge, it is one of the first papers in an academic entrepreneurship setting which recognises the dual separate paths [based on stress and coping theory (Lazarus and Folkman, 1984) and conservation of resources theory (Hobfoll, 1989)] from the perception of support and the objective support itself to entrepreneurial outcomes. The proposed framework also seeks to contribute to a greater understanding of the ways in which social systems might influence the success of an individual academic’s entrepreneurial endeavours and those of others with whom they interact. It also contributes to the wider social support literature by providing a better understanding of how individuals might break resource loss spirals (Hobfoll et al., 2018).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-643
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Management Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2020


  • Academic entrepreneurship
  • Organisational change
  • Social support
  • Supportive culture


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