A new framework to measure entrepreneurial ecosystems at the regional level

Rolf Sternberg
  • Corresponding author
  • Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography, Leibniz University Hannover, Schneiderberg 50, 30167 Hannover, Hannover, Germany
  • Email
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar
, Johannes von Bloh
  • Johannes von Bloh, Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography, Leibniz University Hannover, Schneiderberg 50, 30167 Hannover, Hannover, Germany
  • Email
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar
and Alicia Coduras
  • Alicia Coduras, Institute Opinometre, Av. de Josep Tarradellas, 8, 08029 Barcelona, Spain; and Global Entrepreneurship Research Associaton (GERA), London Business School, Regents Park, London NW1 4SA, London, UK
  • Email
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar

Abstract

The term ‘entrepreneurial eco-system’ (EES) currently belongs to the most popular ones in economic geography – and in the practice of start-up support policies in many countries, too. Due to its exclusively positive connotations the usage of this term creates unrealistic hopes among entrepreneurship support practitioners. Scholars may be reminded to previous supposed panaceas of regional economic policies like clusters, ‘creative class’ members or high-tech industries. As for these predecessors as well, the concept is “fuzzy” (Markusen 1999), the available empirics are “scanty” (ibid.) and its perception among policymakers is oversimplified, exclusively positive and partially naïve. To a degree, this is a consequence of an extremely unclear definition of what is meant by an EES. The undertheorization of the EES discourse, as observed by some scholars, is not due to a lack of conceptual approaches per se, but due to a lack of convincing, theoretically strong approaches. In fact, the majority of the EES publications is conceptual or even theoretical, usually without any serious empirical underpinning. From our perspective the latter has one important consequence: EES theory is weak because there is a lack of representative, comprehensive and sophisticated empirical studies, indicators and methods to measure EES. This paper provides a unique attempt to measure EES at the sub-national level of regions, that is, from our perspective, the most appropriate spatial level to identify and measure (and theorize) EES as the regional entrepreneurship literature provides striking evidence in favor of entrepreneurship as being primarily a regional (or local) event. Our paper contributes to the current EES debate by arguing that a robust empirical measurement of various EES at the sub-national level may help to improve the quality of EES theory. We propose to start with Erik Stam’s interpretation of an EES based upon ten “conditions” for whom we develop specific variables for application in concrete data collection exercises in different regions. We develop an overall EES index as well as subnational indices for each of the ten conditions. We also propose a method to care for the various weighting problems to be solved. Our attempt has been successfully pretested in Germany and Spain and has meanwhile entered a more ambitious pilot phase in 2018. One of this paper’s aims is to get feedback from scholars studying EES regarding our proposed method.

  • Acs, Z. J./Stam, E./Audretsch, D. B./O’Connor, A. (2017): The lineages of the entrepreneurial ecosystem approach. Small Business Economics, 49, 1–10.

  • Acs, Z./Autio, E./Szerb, L. (2014): National systems of entrepreneurship: measurement issues and policy implications. Research Policy, 43, 476–494.

  • Alvedalen, J./Boschma, R. (2017): A critical review of entrepreneurial ecosystems research: towards a future research agenda. European Planning Studies, 25, 887–903.

  • Audretsch, D. B./Belitski, M. (2017): Entrepreneurial ecosystems in cities: establishing the framework conditions. Journal of Technology Transfer, 42, 1030–1051.

  • Autio, E./Kenney, M./Mustar, P./Siegel, D./Wright, M. (2014): Entrepreneurial innovation: the importance of context. Research Policy, 43, 1097–1108.

  • Autio, E./Levie, J. (2017): Management of entrepreneurial ecosystems. In: Ahmetoglu, G., Chamorro-Premuzic, T., Klinger, B., Karcisky T. (Eds.). The Wiley handbook of entrepreneurship: 423–449. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons

  • Autio, E./Pathak, S./Wennberg, K. (2013): Consequences of cultural practices for entrepreneurial behaviors. Journal of International Business Studies. Vol. 44, No. 4 (May 2013), pp. 334–362. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2229397

  • Baumgartner, D./Pütz, M./Seidl, I. (2013): What kind of entrepreneurship drives regional development in European non-core regions? A literature review on empirical entrepreneurship research. European Planning Studies, 21, 1–33.

  • Bosma, N. (2013): The global entrepreneurship monitor (GEM) and its impact on entrepreneurship research. Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship, 9, 143–248.

  • Bosma, N./Sternberg, R. (2014): Entrepreneurship as an urban event? Empirical evidence from European cities. Regional Studies, 48(6), 1016–1033, DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2014.904041

  • Brixy, U./Sternberg, R./Stüber, H. (2013): Why some nascent entrepreneurs do not seek professional assistance. Applied Economics Letters, 20(2), 157–161.

  • Bruns, K./Bosma, N./Sanders, M./Schramm, M. (2017): Searching for the existence of entrepreneurial ecosystems: A regional cross‐section growth regression approach. Small Business Economics, 49, 31–54.

  • Coduras, A./Clemente, J.A./Ruiz, J. (2016): A novel application of fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis to GEM data. Journal of Business Research, 69(4), 1265–1270.

  • Dubini, P. (1989): The Influence of motivations and environment on business start-ups: Some hints for public polices. Journal of Business Venturing 4, 11–26.

  • European Commission, REGIO DG 02 (2013): REDI: The regional entrepreneurship and development index – measuring regional entrepreneurship. Final report.

  • Feld, B. (2012): Startup Communities. Building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in your city. New Jersey: John Whiley & Sons.

  • Feldman, M. P. (2001): The entrepreneurial event revisited: Firm formation in a regional context. Industrial and Corporate Change, 10, 861–891.

  • Feldman, M.P./Zoller, T. (2012): Dealmakers in place: Social capital connections in regional entrepreneurial economies. Regional Studies, 46, 23–37.

  • Florida, R. (2002): The rise of the creative class. New York.

  • Geibel, R.C./Manickam, M. (2015): The startup ecosystems in Germany and in the USA. Explorative analysis and comparison of the startup environments. Conference Paper 2015. DOI: 10.5176/2251-2039_IE15.9.

  • Glaeser, E.L./Kallal, H.D./Scheinkman, J.A./Shleifer, A. (1992): Growth in cities. Journal of Economic Geography, 1, 27–50.

  • Huggins, R./Thompson, P. (2015): Entrepreneurship, innovation and regional growth: network theory. Small Business Economics, 45, 103–128. DOI 10.1007/s11187-015-9643-3

  • Hundt, C./Sternberg, R. (2016): Explaining new firm creation in Europe from a spatial and time perspective: A multilevel analysis based upon data of individuals, regions and countries. Papers in Regional Science 95(2), 223–258. DOI: 10.1111/pirs.12133

  • Isenberg, D. (2010): How to start an entrepreneurial revolution. Harvard Business Review, 88(6), 40–50.

  • Kalnins, A. (2007): Sample selection and theory development: Implications of firms’ varying abilities to appropriately select new ventures. The Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1246–1264.

  • Kemeny, T./Feldman, M.P./Ethridge, F./Zoller, T. (2016): The economic value of local social networks. Journal of Economic Geography, 16, 1101–1122.

  • Khedhaouria, A./Thurik, R. (2017): Configurational conditions of national innovation capability: a fuzzy set analysis approach. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 120, 48–58.

  • Kibler, E./Kautonen, T./Fink, M. (2014): Regional social legitimacy of entrepreneurship: implications for entrepreneurial intention and start-up behavior. Regional Studies, 48(6), 995–1015.

  • Kraus, S./Ribeiro-Soriano, D./Schüssler, M. (2017): Fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) in entrepreneurship and innovation research – the rise of a method. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 14(1), 15–33. DOI: 10.1007/s11365-017-0461-8.

  • Levie, J./Autio, E. (2011): Regulatory burden, rule of law, and entry of strategic entrepreneurs: an international panel study. Journal of Management Studies, 48(6), 1392–1419. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2010.01006.x.

  • Levie, J./Autio, E./Reeves, C./Chisholm, D./Harris, J./Grey, S./Ritchie, I./Cleevely, M. (2014): Assessing regional innovative entrepreneurship ecosystems with the global entrepreneurship and development index: the case of Scotland. Paper presented at the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Research Conference.

  • Mack, E./Mayer, H. (2016): The evolutionary dynamics of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Urban Studies, 53, 2118–2133.

  • Malecki, E. J. (2009): Geographical environments for entrepreneurship. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 7, 175–190.

  • Malecki, E.J. (2018): Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Geography Compass, 12, DOI: 10.1111/gec3.12359

  • Mason, C./Brown, R. (2014): Entrepreneurial ecosystems and growth oriented entrepreneurship. Background paper prepared for the workshop organised by the OECD LEED Programme and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs on Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and Growth Oriented Entrepreneurship. The Hague, Netherlands, 7th November 2013.

  • Morris, M. H./Neumeyer, X./Kuratko, D. F. (2015): A portfolio perspective on entrepreneurship and economic development. Small Business Economics, 45, 713–728.

  • Napier, G./Hansen, G. (2011): Ecosystems for young scalable firms. Copenhagen: FORA.

  • Neck, H. M./Meyer, G. D./Cohen, B./Corbett, A. C. (2004): An entrepreneurial system view of new venture creation. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 42, 190–208.

  • Nicotra, M./Romano, M./Del Giudice, M./Schillachi, C.E. (2018): The causal relation between entrepreneurial ecosystem and productive entrepreneurship: a measurement framework. Journal of Technology Transfer, 43, 640–673.

  • Obschonka, M./Stuetzer, M. (2017): Integrating psychological approaches to entrepreneurship: The entrepreneurial personality system (EPS). Small Business Economics, 49(1), 203–231.

  • Porter, M.E. (1998): Clusters and competition: New agendas for companies, governments and institutions. In: Porter, M.E. (Ed.): On competition. Boston, 197–287.

  • Qian, H./Acs, Z.J./Stough, R. R. (2013): Regional systems of entrepreneurship: the nexus of human capital, knowledge and new firm formation. Journal of Economic Geography, 13, 559–587.

  • Radosevic, S. (2007): National systems of innovation and entrepreneurship: In search of a missing link. UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. Economics Working Paper No. 73.

  • Shane, S. (2009): Why encouraging more people to become entrepreneurs is bad public policy. Small Business Economics (2009) 33:141–149. DOI 10.1007/s11187-009-9215-5.

  • Sorenson, O. (2017): Regional ecologies of entrepreneurship. Journal of Economic Geography 17 (2017) pp. 959–974. doi:10.1093/jeg/lbx031.

  • Spigel, B. (2015): The relational organization of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. DOI: 10.1111/etap.12167.

  • Spilling (1996): The entrepreneurial system: On entrepreneurship in the context of a mega-event. Journal of Business Research 36, 91–103 (1996). DOI: 10.1016/0148-2963(95)00166-2.

  • Stam, E. (2015): Entrepreneurial ecosystems and regional policy: A sympathetic critique. European Planning Studies, 23(9), 1759–1769. DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2015.1061484.

  • Stam, E. (2018): Measuring entrepreneurial ecosystems. In: O’Connor, A./Stam, E./Sussan, F./Audretsch, D.B. (eds.): Entrepreneurial ecosystems. Place-based transformations and transitions. New York, 173 ff.

  • Stam, E./Spigel, B. (2018): Entrepreneurial ecosystems. In: Blackburn, R./De Clercq, D./Heinonen, J./Wang, Z. (eds.): The Sage handbook of small business and entrepreneurship. London, pp. 407–422.

  • Stangler, D./Bell‐Masterson, J. (2015): Measuring an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Kansas City, MO.

  • Sternberg, R. (2009): Regional dimensions of entrepreneurship. Boston, Delft: Now Publishers (= Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship, Vol. 5, Issue 4).

  • Sternberg, R./Krauss, G. (eds.) (2014): Handbook of research on entrepreneurship and creativity. Cheltenham.

  • Stuetzer, M./Obschonka, M./Brixy, U./Sternberg, R./Cantner, U. (2014): Regional characteristics, opportunity perception and entrepreneurial activities. Small Business Economics, 42(2), 221–244.

  • Szerb, L./Vörös, Z./Komlósi, E./Acs, Z.J./Páger, B./Rappai, G. (2017): The regional entrepreneurship and development index: structure, data, methodology and policy applications. Pecz/Hungary (FIRES project).

  • Taich, C./Piazza, M./Carter, K./Wilcox, A. (2016): Measuring entrepreneurial ecosystems. Urban publications 12‐2016. Cleveland: Cleveland State University, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.

  • Trettin, L./Welter, F. (2011): Challenges for spatially oriented entrepreneurship research. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 23(7–8), 575–602. DOI: 10.1080/08985621003792988

  • Van de Ven, A. H. (1993): The development of an infrastructure for entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing, 8,211–230.

  • Van Maanen, J./Sorensen, J.B./Mitchell, T.R. (2007): The interplay between theory and method. The Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1145–1154.

  • Vogel, P. (2013): The employment outlook for youth: Building entrepreneurship ecosystems as a way forward. Conference Proceedings of the G20 Youth Forum, 2013. 46, 2013.

  • Wyrwich, M./Stuetzer, M./Sternberg, R. (2016): Entrepreneurial role models, fear of failure, and institutional approval of entrepreneurship: a tale of two regions. Small Business Economics, 46(3), 467–492. DOI: 10.1007/s11187-015-9695-4.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
$42.00
Price including VAT
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.


Journal + Issues

The primary focus of the German Journal for Economic Geography (ZFW) is on theory-led empirical research about spatial economic structures and regional dynamics. ZFW, which is the only scientific journal on Economic Geography in German speaking countries, addresses scientists and students as well as decision makers in private firms and economic promotion agencies.

Search