Knowledge Acquisition and Use by Tenants to Create Businesses through Incubation Centers in Kenya. A Case of Strathmore and Kenyatta University
Nkoroi, Lilian Kathambi
MetadataShow full item record
Commercialization of university generated knowledge through the creation of innovative products and services cannot be overemphasized. Business incubation programme in universities provides tenants with an enabling environment to hone their ideas and knowledge in a controlled setting before venturing out. However, previous research has indicated that even after going through business incubation initiatives, the survival rate of young businesses in developing countries is low and there is high rate of business failure. The current research sought to determine the degree to which knowledge from various internal and external incubation centre networks and business support initiatives help tenants to create successful enterprises. The study objectives were: to establish the use of internal and external networks by incubation centre tenants; find out the attitude of incubation centre tenants towards business support services; establish the use of knowledge by incubation centre tenants and to establish challenges affecting incubator tenants in their endeavour to acquire knowledge in incubation centres. Social Capital Theory proposed by Nahaphiet and Ghoshal (1998) was used to guide this research study. Census approach was adopted and all the incubator tenants, incubator staff and incubator managers in the two universities were involved in the study. An initial target population of 60 comprising of incubator managers, incubator staff and incubator tenants was involved. Data collection instruments were questionnaires and interview schedules. A pilot study was conducted to assure validity and reliability. Descriptive statistics were used for data analysis to generate tables, graphs and charts for display of data. The findings of the study revealed that incubation centre tenants relied on self-organized internal networks comprising of fellow tenants, academia and alumni. Business advisory training was held on need basis while mentorship programmes were not well coordinated due to shortage of funds. This influenced the attitude of tenants towards business support services because to a great extent, incubators were not satisfying the needs of the tenants. The findings also noted that a majority of the incubation centre tenants utilized knowledge acquired from the incubators to develop their business ideas. Lack of competence to tap tacit knowledge impended knowledge acquisition initiatives in the incubation centres. It was also noted that rivalry among tenants was observed around collaboration activities due to limited workspace and lack of trust. The study recommended that incubation centres should establish a knowledge management system to increase the capacity and competence of tenants to tap tacit knowledge and utilise it in the creation of sustainable businesses. Further research on factors influencing the survival of businesses after the incubation programme was recommended.