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Entrepreneurship Research Journal

Ed. by Labaki, Rania / Lyons, Thomas / Zachary, Ramona K. / Mishra, Chandra

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Examining the Connections within the Startup Ecosystem: A Case Study of St. Louis

Yasuyuki Motoyama / Karren Knowlton
Published Online: 2016-12-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/erj-2016-0011


We critically examine how an entrepreneurial ecosystem is structured using an exploratory and bottom-up approach. Past studies in this area have discussed the presence of elements in the system or captured the ecosystem as holistically as possible by extending to social, cultural, and institutional dimension. However, we find that such aggregated conceptualizations gave limited understanding to how different elements are connected and constitute the system. Here, we apply a social network approach by analyzing the connections of the ecosystem at multiple layers: (1) among entrepreneurs, (2) among support organizations, and (3) between and among entrepreneurs and key support organizations. Through a series of interviews with entrepreneurs and support organizations in St. Louis, we find that the ways in which support organizations in this region interacted with each other and with entrepreneurs, including explicit cross-organizational collaboration and strategic structuring of resources, significantly impacted the way that entrepreneurs interacted with one another and with organizations, thus deepening our understanding of these connections and identifying intervening points within the ecosystem.

Keywords: entrepreneurship; startup; ecosystem; venture funds


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-12-21

Published in Print: 2017-01-01

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (Grant/Award Number).

Citation Information: Entrepreneurship Research Journal, Volume 7, Issue 1, 20160011, ISSN (Online) 2157-5665, ISSN (Print) 2194-6175, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/erj-2016-0011.

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