Business incubation as a community of practice: an emergent cultural web

Simon Stephens, Kristel Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Research on business incubation has been dominated by studies exploring university-industry technology transfer and high technology accelerators. Less is known about Business Incubation Centres (BICs), specifically, how their formal and informal structures may impact upon client development. Drawing on concepts from the community of practice (CoP) literature and organizational culture, we explore if BICs can be considered to be CoPs. We also seek to unravel the key elements which underpin the culture of a BIC and how these elements may provide enabling or constraining conditions for a CoP to emerge. Through a qualitative methodology of regional based BICs in Ireland, we illustrate how the amount of time spent on campus; the nature of the working week; the scalability of the enterprise; and the capacity of the enterprise to meet the criteria associated with high potential start-ups influences clients’ perceptions of the value of BICs. We provide new theoretical insights which suggest that BICs are a CoP with a culture that can be studied, captured, and illustrated. Practical and policy implications are suggested to enhance the effectiveness of BICs for both clients and regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)890-910
Number of pages21
JournalEnrepreneuship and Regional Development
Issue number9-10
Early online date17 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 20 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Business incubation centres
  • community of practice
  • cultural web
  • small business
  • Development
  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics


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