West Coast Research Symposium inspires novel research

PACCAR Hall,Faculty researchers from 50 major universities across the United States and from as far away as Singapore and France met on September 8 and 9, 2011 at the UW Foster School of Business. They came to do what they do best: share their research and experience in technology entrepreneurship.

This year the top papers were weighted toward the emergence of new markets and the role of cognition—how markets are formed and how perceptions get framed of those markets. Other areas of research included venture investing, management teams and innovation, generating legitimacy and creating identity, tracking technology patterns, technology shocks on existing industries, and longitudinal perspectives on new technologies. Out of 50 papers submitted to the symposium, only 19 were chosen for presentation.

The West Coast Research Symposium (WCRS) is dedicated to improving research projects, stimulating novel ideas, and fostering new relationships and research collaborations. As Professor Suresh Kotha of the Foster School (and one of the original organizers of the event) noted, the atmosphere of the meeting makes it easy to share information. “Most academic conferences have as many as 10,000 attendees, but the WCRS is an intimate meeting,” he said. “We had 92 attendees this year. In that environment, people get to know each other, and their conversations revolve around what they’re researching in technology and entrepreneurship, and how they might be able to collaborate going forward.”

This year also marked a first for WCRS. Eleven of the papers presented at the symposium will go into a special issue of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal (SEJ), slated for publication in 2012. SEJ is a sister publication of the prestigious Strategic Management Journal, and is designed to expand and develop the natural relationship that exists between strategic management and entrepreneurship’s focus on innovation and opportunity recognition.

A key element of the WCRS is a one-day doctoral student consortium designed to educate the next generation of technology entrepreneurship researchers and keep the field vital for the future. The symposium, funded with financial support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, provides an opportunity for PhD candidates who haven’t yet defended their dissertation proposal to discuss their interests with senior scholars in the field. The students use the day to explore their own emerging interests or find new ones, and meet peers who may become lifelong colleagues.

Professor Nandini Rajagopalan, a member of the WCRS organizing committee from USC’s Marshall School, remarked that the doctoral students and research faculty alike benefit from the interaction. “Our attendees note how open and constructive the meeting is. The tone is nurturing and critical at the same time—a difficult combination to pull off.”

WCRS history goes back to 2003, when faculty from three universities—University of Washington, Stanford University and University of Oregon—held the first symposium at the UW. The WCRS organizers were later joined by faculty from the University of Southern California and University of California Irvine.