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Fostering Institutional Change in Innovation and Entrepreneurship: A Social Network Analysis Approach

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Victoria Matthew VentureWell/Epicenter

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Victoria Matthew is Senior Program Officer for Faculty Development at VentureWell, where she leads the Pathways to Innovation Program, Epicenter’s faculty development and engagement strategy. She designs in-person and online convenings, engages experts, and curates content that fosters the Pathways faculty goals of integrating entrepreneurship and innovation into undergraduate engineering. Prior to joining VentureWell, Victoria worked for over a decade in higher education. She has designed, developed and managed degree, and certificate programs, and has experience as an online instructor, and mentor and trainer of other online instructors.

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Thema Monroe-White SageFox Consulting Group

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Thema Monroe-White is a senior evaluation and research consultant at SageFox Consulting Group. Thema worked as a researcher and evaluator in the areas of mental health, STEM education and commercialization. She has taught in the K-12 environment, served as an instructor and invited guest lecturer for courses in leadership, statistics and cross-cultural psychology at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Thema completed her Master's Degree in Developmental Psychology at Howard University and her PhD in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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Shelly Engelman SageFox Consulting Group

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Shelly Engelman, Ph.D. is a senior quantitative researcher at SageFox Consulting Group.

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Over the last decade, faculty champions across the country have made significant strides in integrating innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) into engineering education. However, such efforts have not resulted in lasting and widespread change. This purpose of this study is to understand the degree to which a national network of faculty can promote sustained change in this domain. In so doing, this paper presents the results of a social network analysis (SNA) of the Pathways to Innovation Program (Pathways), and links network data to key programmatic inputs and institutional outcomes.

Pathways, the faculty-development arm of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), is designed to help institutions infuse innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) experiences into the undergraduate engineering experience. Pathways is a structured inter-organizational network of approximately 400 individuals at 50 institutions whose primary objective is to transform the undergraduate experience of engineering students by embedding I&E into undergraduate engineering1. Over the course of two years, Pathways teams turn their ideas into educational innovations aimed at improving the quality and quantity of I&E offerings on campus. To accomplish this goal, Pathways provides opportunities for teams to interact with each other, and subject matter experts, through a series of face-to-face gatherings and online activities.

The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between the network structure of Pathways teams and shared outcomes in I&E offerings on campus that result from knowledge flows between the teams and other influencers in the Pathways community. To explore these relationships, the authors administered a novel SNA instrument to examine the extent to which network collaborations and communications relate to team outcomes, and understand how network differences both before and after joining Pathways contribute to successful change efforts. This research aligns with the extensive literature review that informed the design of Pathways, which emphasized the importance of a peer network in the design of an effective faculty development program2. Drawing upon research on community networks within a collective impact framework3,4, the authors hypothesize that the Pathways initiative, which “…involv[es] a centralized infrastructure, a dedicated staff, and a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants” (p.1)4 would positively impact the I&E ecosystem at participating institutions.

The program’s sizeable network of institutions, collective impact design, and emphasis on fostering inter-organizational communication and collaboration towards a shared goal makes it an excellent source of study for other large-scale initiatives aimed at fostering change in the post-secondary educational context. Results of this study will contribute to our understanding of inter-organizational and team-based collaboration networks to promote educational innovations in engineering education.

Matthew, V., & Monroe-White, T., & Engelman, S. (2016, June), Fostering Institutional Change in Innovation and Entrepreneurship: A Social Network Analysis Approach Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26946

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