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Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie

The German Journal of Economic Geography

Editor-in-Chief: Henn, Sebastian / Thomi, Walter / Bathelt, Harald

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Volume 63, Issue 2-4


Applying the concept of entrepreneurial ecosystems in Estonia

Merli Reidolf
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Business Administration Tallinn University of Technology Ehitajate tee 5 Tallinn 19086 Estonia Tallinn Estonia
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/ Merle Küttim
  • Department of Business Administration Tallinn University of Technology Ehitajate tee 5 19086 Tallinn Tallinn Estonia
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/ Aleksandr Michelson / Helena Rozeik
  • Department of Business Administration Tallinn University of Technology Ehitajate tee 5 19086 Tallinn Tallinn Estonia
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/ Marianne Kallaste
  • Department of Business Administration Tallinn University of Technology Ehitajate tee 5 19086 Tallinn Tallinn Estonia
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Published Online: 2019-11-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfw-2018-0028


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.

Keywords: entrepreneurial ecosystems; Estonia; knowledge base

JEL Classification: L26; O31; R12

The article is based on a study commissioned by Foresight Centre of Parliament of Estonia and forms a part of the development of the productivity scenarios and looks for possibilities for increasing the level of competitiveness of Estonian enterprises during the next 10–15 years. The study was conducted in cooperation with Tallinn University of Technology and Praxis Centre for Policy Studies.


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About the article

Received: 2018-10-23

Accepted: 2019-08-30

Published Online: 2019-11-13

Published in Print: 2019-11-01

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie, Volume 63, Issue 2-4, Pages 134–145, ISSN (Online) 2365-7693, ISSN (Print) 0044-3751, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfw-2018-0028.

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