Edited by Michael L. Fetters, Patricia G. Greene, Mark P. Rice and John S.ibley Butler
4. University of Southern California Kathleen Allen and Mark Lieberman The entrepreneurship ecosystem at the University of Southern California (USC) began in the 1960s when the university offered its first courses dedicated to helping students understand the mindset and skills required to launch new businesses. The elaborate innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem that exists at USC today was not the result of a decades-long strategy to develop such an ecosystem. Rather it emerged organically in much the same way as the field of entrepreneurship, pushed by a growing demand from students, researchers and the community for a unified system of resources and expertise that they could tap into as they developed their businesses or commercialized their research. This chapter explores the nature and evolution of the USC entrepreneurship ecosystem. The chapter is organized according to a modified framework proposed by Hansen and Birkinshaw (2007) that describes the innovation value chain. It consists of three broad phases: idea generation, conversion and diffusion. Within each phase are activities that involve collaboration, screening and developing, and spreading ideas within and outside the organization. Reflecting the three phases, the chapter comprises three parts: (1) the genesis of an entrepreneurship ecosystem; (2) the development of the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem; and (3) the diffusion of the entrepreneurial mindset and skills within and outside the university. THE GENESIS OF AN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM To appreciate why the study of entrepreneurship developed so early at USC, it is important to understand the context in which the university operates. USC...
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