Delineating African Innovation Hubs from Business Incubators: A Process Perspective
Research Paper submitted to 4th Biennial Conference of the Africa Academy of Management, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 3rd - 6th January 2018
This paper examines a potentially new organizational form of entrepreneurship support that is particularly prevalent in Africa: the innovation hub. It establishes whether hubs are "new" by comparing them to business incubators as the globally most common form. A literature review shows that incubators have been seen according to the venture creation or the dyadic view. The paper conceptualizes hubs based on case study data of six hubs in three African cities (Kigali, Harare, and Accra), including 133 participant interviews. The paper shows that entrepreneurial participation in hubs is more varied than for traditional incubators. The research argues that hubs in Africa can be included under a broad definition of incubators, but that this would miss essential differences in typical support processes. The paper calls on scholars and practitioners to more clearly discern between forms of entrepreneurship support and suggests adopting a process perspective rather than a focus on definitions.