One of the challenges in higher education is to rekindle or maybe even reformulate the entrepreneurial spirit. The challenge that administrative and academic leadership faces is to create organizations with an entrepreneurial culture. Organizational leadership must become proactive and individuals must be rewarded for their proactive activities.
In an age of cost-cutting, where centralization has become the answer to the economic turbulence, the challenge for organizational leaders is to think about not what the organization will look like tomorrow morning, but what the organization will look like in the future. In this context, there is much to be said about the creation of entrepreneurial venues within the university structure.
Universities and colleges must begin to think about how to reinvigorate the partnership with faculty and all members of the academic community. Over the years, entrepreneurial efforts in the university context have been restricted to a few sectors or individuals at any given university. The challenge is to ensure that the entrepreneurial spirit permeates the organization with reward and recognition. This means that entrepreneurs should be rewarded and recognized.
Over the years university leadership has tended not to ask themselves what are the incentive mechanisms that will cause individual actors to innovate, share ideas, and take risks—not simply on their own behalf, but on behalf of the institution. My fear is that in dealing with our current crisis, through restructuring and cost-cutting, universities like many other organizations, will stymie the risk-taking behavior that has been the backbone of entrepreneurship and success. In crises like these, the issue is not simply to cut costs, but where to place the resource that will give return in the long run.
Leaders should remember not to kill entrepreneurship with the cost-cutting sword.