The entrepreneurial ecosystem (EE) literature has attracted much attention, especially in policy circles. However, the concept suffers from a number of shortcomings: (1) it lacks a clear analytical framework that makes explicit what is cause and what is effect in an EE; (2) while being a systemic concept, the EE has not yet fully exploited insights from network theory, and it is not always clear in what way the proposed elements are connected in an EE; (3) it remains a challenge what institutions (and at what spatial scale) impact on the structure and performance of EE; (4) studies have often focused on the EE in single regions or clusters, but lack a comparative and multi-scalar perspective and (5) the EE literature tends to provide a static framework taking a snapshot of EE without considering systematically their evolution over time. For each of these shortcomings, we make a number of suggestions to take up in future research on EE.
The study of regional growth paths is a key theme in economic geography and of elemental interest for regional development. This paper addresses the interplay between path-dependent, structural forces and the construction and utilization of opportunities through agentic processes. Extending the evolutionary framework, it is argued that not only history but also perceived futures influence agentic processes in the present and thus shape regional development paths. The paper discusses the relevance and interdependencies of three types of agency with distinct theoretical roots, namely Schumpeterian innovative entrepreneurship, institutional entrepreneurship and place-based leadership, as main drivers of regional structural change.
Grillitsch, M., & Sotarauta, M. (2019). Trinity of change agency, regional development paths and opportunity spaces. Progress in human geography
Associate Professor at Department of Human Geography and Director at CIRCLE
Lund University Sweden
The interview transcript
Janna thank you very much for accepting this invitation to have a coffee break with me, how are you doing?
Thank you very much, it’s great to be here and I’m doing very well, thank you
Great to know, I’m enjoying as usual a very nice and dark this time black Colombian coffee, which coffee are you having today?
I have a lovely cappuccino.
Janna I want to talk with you about very interesting paper you wrote in which you do a critical review of entrepreneurial ecosystems, could you please tell me what the paper was about?
sure so the paper is about the concept of entrepreneurial ecosystems, they became very popular and it was mentioned a lot so a lot of policy makers were keen on applying that concept, however it was also a bit confusing and researchers at that time also had hard time to explaining all the bits and parts of that concept, so in our paper we went through systematically different research papers to explain what were the shortcomings of that concept at that time.
That sounds great so I imagined that the key notion of your paper is entrepreneurial ecosystems, do you mind giving us a definition of this concept?
yes of course entrepreneurial ecosystems are ecosystems that support or not entrepreneurship in the region and you could think about Silicon Valley, which is a popular example or another region like Stockholm or Lund, where there are different actors and factors are coordinated in a certain way that they support or not productive entrepreneurship, so we talk about actors, factors, links between them it happens in a region and we promote productive entrepreneurship.
Thank you for that that’s a very important concept indeed, in being in Lund very important to define it there um I want to know now a little bit about the findings of your paper can you tell us something about them please?
yes of course so the findings were about shortcomings as I mentioned and we found that cause and effect in the framework was not really clearly explained, another thing was that we were talking about entrepreneurial ecosystem like a network and we know a lot about networks through network theory and we have network tools but those were not yet applied to that concept, another thing were institutions institutions, such as culture or laws and regulations are very important, we know that, but also that was not really discussed in that concept yet in scientific literature, multiscalar approach was not taking up either, which means that not only looking at networks in one region, but how also how links outside of the region to national and global level play a role, also institutions play a role not only at regional level, but also at national and global levels and that is important to understand how that impact entrepreneurship comparative analysis or comparative approach was not taking up either too much, which means that researchers were focusing on certain regions and explaining that as singular cases and more comparative studies would be good to have and last point was dynamics, many discussions were about static view on entrepreneurship ecosystem, entrepreneurial ecosystem and it’s really interesting to know how we arrived there, how did silicon valley became what it is or how did Stockholm became what it is, how it started um developed their networks and became stronger with time.
So interesting thank you for that I would like you please to tell us a little bit about your personal experience or your personal motivation when you when you wrote this paper?
so this is a concept that supports or not entrepreneurship and of course that is very interesting to know because I’ve been an entrepreneur myself, I had a company and then I studied masters in entrepreneurship so anything that can help entrepreneurs dare to start a company and get support in those questions have been interesting to me.
That’s great to know honestly I’m also an entrepreneur myself and I really enjoyed your reading your paper because of that so, finally I want to ask you about the implications for for policy makers after your paper.
so the relevance to policy is that quality of entrepreneurship differ between different regions and that means that we have different type we can expect to have different types of firms in, as I mentioned Silicon Valley or Ohio or Stockholm or Lund regions and and we should understand not only how the firms themselves act and what they need but also the system they are in the ecosystem they are in, so policy makers should not only stimulate the entrepreneurial firms, but also understand the whole system and address bottlenecks in that system,
That’s really really important indeed and thank you very very much for for that paper for all your valuable insights and of course for having the time to chat with me and I wish you Janna all the best and those were all my questions and hope to see you soon in a coffee break.
My pleasure thank you very much for having me.
Thank you for watching if you’re interested in more details about this academic publication you can find here the link below. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube or listen to our podcast on Spotify, see you next time bye!
Thank you Marcus again for having this chat with me about one of your papers, how are you doing?
Hello Lorena it’s a pleasure to be here again.
I want to talk with you about the paper you wrote in which you analyzed the role of change agency in regional development, could you please tell me what the paper was about?
Yes, it is about the actions about how actors like firms, local government, universities and others civil society actors, how they shape the future of the region they are in.
It sounds very interesting and I see that the key notion of the paper is change agency, could you please explain it?
Yes, agency is about actions, so actions of individuals, groups of individuals and organizations and the consequences of these actions, both intended and unintended and change agency is than other actions that are directed towards making a change to the region structures.
I see, thank you for that and based on these notions, which ones will you say are the key findings of your paper?
Yes, there are three I would say, so we did a in-depth literature review and found three types of agency, change agency that matter, that help actors to shape the region. So the first one is innovative entrepreneurship and this is about creating new products, new services, the processes, new organizations and this is something that humankind has been doing from ancient times, from the idea of the wheel to the semiconductor to the combustion engine, this is something that we humans have been doing, then the second thing is institutional entrepreneurship and that’s about changing the rules of the game, so former institutions informal institutions and this is also something that humankind has been doing from ancient romans to the global world we live in nowadays and the third type of change agency that we identified in literature is place-based leadership and this is a form of you could say collective action, so actions that are directed to coordinate activities in the region to create for instance common resources like educational institutes or infrastructure or resources that benefit others in the region, we found that these are three types of agency that having effect on the economy and institutions and places
Very interesting indeed, thank you and what about your personal motivation in writing this paper?
yes it was a bit of a frustration because much of the literature, but also the policy debate is about the structures that almost determine let’s say the outcome so you could say that non-core regions regions outside the agglomerations they have bad structural preconditions and therefore they fall behind and there was little room for agency so to what extent and how actors can maybe overcome structural barriers and so with this paper we wanted to shed light on this black
spot in economic geography.
That’s great and what about policy implications, what would you suggest to policy makers based on your research?
Yes this research would suggest that not only structures matter but also agency, so also the actions of policy makers firms universities civil society actors and then it’s about empowering these different actors to make a change in the region so I think to put an emphasis on facilitating this change process and supporting the change agents would be one important policy implication.
Thank you very much and it’s been again a pleasure for me to have you here in a coffee break I wish you all the best for your future research and hope to see you again soon.
That would be very nice bye bye.
Thank you for watching if you’re interested in more details about this academic publication you can find here the link below. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube or listen to our podcast on Spotify see you next time byeTags: agency, evolutionary theory, opportunity space, path-dependency, regional development, regional growth