Merli Reidolf, Merle Küttim, Aleksandr Michelson, Helena Rozeik, Marianne Kallaste
November 13, 2019
Similar to natural ecosystems, entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurial actors are locally interdependent and affect the performance of each other. Mostly economically larger and more successful regions have been studied by using the framework of entrepreneurial ecosystems (EEs). The current study aims at further developing the theoretical understanding of EEs and applying the proposed EE model in the context of Estonia. In the study, a conceptual model of an EE is proposed, the uniqueness of which lies in merging three aspects into a single framework: the nine components of an EE, its value-added, and its phase of development. The model was applied for analysing by means of a qualitative methodology four sector-based subEEs in Estonia. The study showed that even in a small country like Estonia the components of the EE were partly similar, but also partly unique for the subEEs. This was not due to the location, but because of sectoral differences. The difference of the development phase seemed to be related to the knowledge base of the sector. The policy relevance of the model is that it allows looking at the elements of an EE as well as its economic value-added and development prospects. The EE approach allows addressing jointly the difficulties and challenges in the development of EEs, including the issues of digitalisation, skilled labour, and production costs, which would allow the subEEs to develop into mature and resilient networks. Not all the components of an EE have to be equally strong, but their interconnectedness determines the strength of an EE. Policy solutions need to be tailored to the needs of specific subEEs based on the knowledge base and inner dynamics of the sectors.