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Ecosystems: What do you know?

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The term ecosystem has become a buzzword widely used by researchers and practitioners. It is applied to a variety of related, yet distinct concepts in the areas of management, strategy and entrepreneurship. These include innovation ecosystems that are centered around different platforms; regional ecosystems which have a strong geographical aspect; and entrepreneurship ecosystems which focus on the interplay of different domains and encompass factors to foster entrepreneurship. However, the theoretical foundations of the latter, entrepreneurship ecosystems, as well as our understanding of the drivers and the dynamics are still weak.

Gartner (2007) eloquently introduces the subject of entrepreneurship through the well-known tale about the elephant and the blind men, and as such we will too. The story has many variations, but to recap, the tale tells of a group of blind men who are each touching a different part of an elephant. After touching one part of the elephant each, the blind men arrive at different conclusions as to what it is they are touching. When the blind men discuss their findings they realize that their conclusions differ significantly. It is through discussion, by listening to one another and collaborating that the blind men identify that it is an elephant. It is not until a sighted man walks by and after talking to the sighted man do the blind men learn that they are blind. The tale captures a very important point: while the subjective perceptions of each blind man are true, it does not necessarily mean they experience the objective truth.

Entrepreneurship ecosystems are multi-dimensional, interdisciplinary constructs on which research is carried out by a variety of disciplines. If we learn from the tale, each discipline is limited in some way. To date, research is being carried out by a variety of disciplines, internationally by both academics and practitioners. However, in order to advance research in this field it is necessary to remove the boundaries and begin to work across disciplines, across countries integrating both academics and practitioners into the discussion. The existing body of knowledge related to ecosystems is fragmented with discipline contributing their own frameworks. A more integrated approach is needed and while this understanding poses challenges, we are putting in place this research network to form a hub, where ideas can be exchanged, networks can be fostered and to work towards furthering progress in this field.

With regard to the tale, we may, of course, instead all be touching something different, misguided by preliminary findings, but what would that mean?

Only by bringing researchers together from all of the aforementioned disciplines, gathering them around this subject, asking for their insights as individual disciplines, asking for collaborative research across disciplines can we make progress. We recognize that we are inherently limited by our viewpoint and that is why we ask those to look from our differing viewpoints, with our different research skills to advance the field of ecosystems.

We ask you to contribute from your viewpoint and share your research and knowledge with us!

The Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Research Network (EERN) is designed as an international community and think tank that aims to advance our understanding of entrepreneurship ecosystems. It seeks to support the development of new concepts and frameworks of such ecosystems. It provides a network for the exchange of knowledge, experiences and ideas in this field. The aim of EERN is to become a single point of contact for anyone seeking to understand more about entrepreneurship ecosystems. It also strives to host workshops, seminars and conferences related to entrepreneurship ecosystems.

Furthermore, the EERN Blog aims to connect the micro (e.g. startup stories/news from specific ecosystems) and the macro level (e.g. entrepreneurship ecosystem policy) by featuring entrepreneurship related content on a regular basis and offer the readers the possibilities to comment on the content. Special areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Entrepreneurial ecosystems in general
    • What is an entrepreneurial ecosystem?
    • What are important factors to foster entrepreneurship in a region?
    • Who are the key actors and how can these individuals or organizations/institutions influence the ecosystem?
    • Stories of success/failure from particular cities or regions
  • Academic entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial university
  • Entrepreneurship education and the role of human capital
  • Social capital and networks
  • Entrepreneurial and innovation culture
  • Knowledge exchange, technology transfer and research commercialization
  • Cross sector collaboration (science, business and society) and innovation networks
  • Public policy, government and leadership
  • Infrastructure (incubators, accelerators, etc.) and financial capital

Postings should be written in a way that is accessible and understandable, with a clear focal point and a logical structure for a variety of readers with and without extensive entrepreneurship/startup knowhow or experience. The typical length should be between 500 and 1500 words.

We want to know: what do you know?

References

Gartner, W. B. (2007). Is There an Elephant in Entrepreneurship? Blind Assumptions in Theory Development. In Á. Cuervo, D. Ribeiro, & S. Roig (Eds.), Entrepreneurship: Concepts, Theory and Perspective. Berlin: Springer.

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