Measuring business incubation outcomes: An Irish case study
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This paper examines the impact of business incubation on its participants (incubatees). The research presented enhances the conceptual framework of performance measures for business incubation proposed by Voisey et al (2006). Following an extensive review of the literature, data were collected using a survey of 43 incubatees and interviews with a random sample of 12 of them. The survey questionnaire examined data in two categories: hard and soft measures – the former relating to sales turnover, profitability, growth, independence and the number of clients, and the latter to professionalism, improved business skills, confidence, productivity, knowledge, cost savings and publicity. The interviews explored the incubatees’ experience of life in a business incubation centre and of networking with other incubatees. The findings indicate that the measurement of business incubation outcomes needs to be broader than a set of statistical outputs. A modified version of the framework proposed by Voisey et al provides an appropriate holistic approach to evaluating business incubation outcomes. The framework proposed includes hard and soft measures and the measurement of outcomes at three stages: pre-incubation, during incubation and post-incubation. This study offers an example of a measurement approach that captures the value of business incubation, and thus should be useful to incubators, sponsors, incubatees and academics.
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