Encouraging Entrepreneurship by Graduate Students: the Role of Proactive Policies
Last registered on April 23, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Encouraging Entrepreneurship by Graduate Students: the Role of Proactive Policies
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003602
Initial registration date
November 30, 2018
Last updated
April 23, 2019 9:37 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Bologna
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Bologna
PI Affiliation
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2018-09-01
End date
2020-08-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Motivated by the need to rethink the studies and the policies on academic entrepreneurship (Wright and Siegel, 2015), this project intends to assess the impact of scouting activities promoted by University Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) on the engagement of graduate students (including doctoral and master students) in an array of activities linked to entrepreneurship and commercialisation. Master and PhD Students of the University of Bologna will be randomly assigned into two groups: a group receiving direct (face-to-face) scouting visits and advise on commercialisation by the university TTO staff; a control group not receiving any kind of treatment. The Randomised Controlled Trial will assess the impact of receiving proactive and direct support on entrepreneurial intentions and behaviors, and subsequent actual involvement in entrepreneurship-related activities, such as participation in acceleration/incubatìon programs and startup/spinoff formation.
Registration Citation
Citation
Bolzani, Daniela, Rosa Grimaldi and Federico Munari. 2019. "Encouraging Entrepreneurship by Graduate Students: the Role of Proactive Policies ." AEA RCT Registry. April 23. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3602/history/45389
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The proposed intervention takes place within the scouting activities undertaken by the University of Bologna TTO to support entrepreneurship and foster commercialization of research for students and graduates. The identified participants from Master and PhD courses of the University of Bologna will be randomly assigned into two groups: a group receiving scouting activities; and a control group not receiving any kind of treatment).
The scouting activity, constituting the treatment in our approach, will be conducted by the innovation scouts of the TTO at the University of Bologna. The treatment will start after the collection of pre-test questionnaires and the randomization of individuals to experimental arms, following a pre-determined protocol organized around three phases.
Intervention Start Date
2018-12-01
Intervention End Date
2020-04-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
We consider 6 primary outcomes for our project, inspired by the existing literature on student entreprenurship:
1) Awareness of entrepreneurship support programs
2) Entrepreneurial intentions
3) Entrepreneurial feasibility
4) Entrepreneurial attitudes
5) Perceived support for entrepreneurship
6) Entrepreneurial behavior


Primary Outcomes (explanation)
In order to measure the outcome variables we will use the following measures taken from the literature (measures 1 to 5 will be constructed based on surveys; measures 6 are objective measures based on secondary sources):
1) Awareness of entrepreneurship support programs; (6-point scale Likert scale); Self-reported at individual student level, through questionnaires (ex-ante, ex-post)
2) Entrepreneurial intentions; Psychometric scale (7-point Likert scale, Kautonen et al., 2015); Self-reported at individual student level, through questionnaires (ex-ante, ex-post)
3) Entrepreneurial feasibility; Psychometric scale (7-point Likert scale, Kautonen et al., 2015); Self-reported at individual student level, through questionnaires (ex-ante, ex-post)
4) Entrepreneurial attitudes; Psychometric scale (7-point Likert scale, Kautonen et al., 2015); Self-reported at individual student level, through questionnaires (ex-ante, ex-post)
5) Perceived support for entrepreneurship; 1-item scale about the perceived efficacy of university initiatives to support entrepreneurship (6-point Likert scale)
Self-reported at individual student level, through questionnaires (ex-ante, ex-post)
6.a)Entrepreneurial behavior; Summative index of the number of start-up activities undertaken (0-1 index, Shirokova et al., 2015)
Self-reported at individual student level, through questionnaires (ex-ante, ex-post)
6.b) Entrepreneurial behavior; Participation in incubation or acceleration programs; business start-up creation (binary outcome variables)
Objective data regarding the individual student, through secondary data
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Our proposed trial is an explanatory trial, in that we are going to follow strict inclusion/exclusion criteria for participants (e.g., status of graduate student in selected domains, and having an interest for entrepreneurship), following a defined and controlled protocol of intervention undertaken by highly trained practitioners, and having the trial arms receiving the same management (except for the intervention object of investigation). Nevertheless, we acknowledge that some real-world conditions might be affecting the trial environment (e.g., because more than one innovation scout might be involved in the delivery of intervention; or because of unlikely possibility to improve or alter compliance for the experimental treatment), generating the likelihood that the trial might also slightly move towards having the characteristics of a pragmatic trial.
The research team will therefore put in place any effort to adhere to explanatory-trial conditions. The trial is designed as a parallel one and has two arms – one with a subsection of graduate students receiving the treatment (“experimental” arm) and the other not receiving the treatment (“business-as-usual” arm), with an allocation ratio of 1:1. The unit of randomization and analysis is at the individual-level (i.e., graduate student). The trial will be based on stratified randomization. The type of graduate students (PhD students vs. Master students) will be used as stratification factor, in order to ensure that each type of graduate student is evenly spread between control and treatment groups. Nevertheless, in order to keep into account potential issues of contamination and spillover, we will explore the opportunity to randomize clusters of students (e.g., from the same doctoral program or from the same Master course).
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
To perform randomization, we will use the functions offered by Microsoft Excel.
Randomization Unit
The unit of randomization and analysis is at the individual-level (i.e., graduate student).
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
zero
Sample size: planned number of observations
280 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
2 arms. Arm one (treatment): 140 students; Arm two (control): 140 students
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number