Entrepreneurial ecosystems and public policy

Publication Date02 Sep 2019
AuthorJason Jolley,Luke Pittaway
SubjectStrategy,Entrepreneurship,Business climate/policy
Guest editorial
Entrepreneurial ecosystems and public policy
Interest in the concept of an entrepreneurial ecosystem has been growing in recent years
(World Economic Forum, 2013). The concept is rooted in ideas about the role of clusters in
geographic locations and is linked to work about industrial districts and clusters of
innovation (Feldman et al., 2005). An entrepreneurial ecosystem can be defined in a number
of different ways, but it is common to consider an entrepreneurial ecosystem to be. [] the
union of localized cultural outlooks, social networks, investment capital, universities and
active economic policies that create environments of supportive innovation-based ventures
(Spigel, 2015). The ecopart of the word links back to an analogy of ecological systems that
are morphogenic, flexible and constantly adapting in complex ways, while the system
aspect of the definition suggests an organized quality to the way in which overall
interactions occur. In recent public policy the concept of entrepreneurial ecosystems has
become popular and policy professionals are increasingly interested to explore how they can
create such ecosystems in their locality and for their communities (World Economic Forum,
2013). Typically, entrepreneurial ecosystems have a geographic component and may be
considered to be located in a region, a city, a specific part of a city or around an anchor
organization (e.g. a university, research lab or major corporation). This special issue is,
therefore, focused on specific public policy considerations for the development and
maintenance of environments that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
Research on entrepreneurial ecosystems has been developing and there is much prior
relevant work on clusters, industrial districts and clusters of innovation (Roundy, 2016).
Most study of the subject has been focused on major urban areas, such as, Silicon Valley,
Boston, Washington DC and Boulder Colorado (Feldman, 2014) and more recently Chicago,
Pittsburgh, and Richmond (Harper-Anderson, 2018). Study has focused on the attributes of
entrepreneurial ecosystems, with a focus on the various components, how they interact and
what aspects enable growth and development (Pitelis, 2012). Most studies in the subject look
historically at the process through which an ecosystem has become established within a
particular locality or focuses on conceptual arguments (Feldman, 2014). Current thinking
has been criticized for focusing on predominantly successful ecosystems in major urban
environments, for listing attributes without much consideration of causality or for
neglecting the temporal nature and phases through which ecosystems might develop
(Roundy, 2016). There are also disagreements in the literature over the exact role of certain
attributes, some for example show that universities are critically important while others
are less conclusive. The role of public policy in supporting and creating entrepreneurial
ecosystems is likewise unclear (Feld, 2012).
The purpose of the special issue is to consider a number of key areas in this stream of
research and specifically to investigate the public policy implications. First, the special
issue welcomed studies that explored entrepreneurial ecosystems in a general sense and
the role of public policy in supporting such systems. Aspects of public policy focused on in
the special issue call included: business support policies; public or government venture
finance; makerspaces, incubation, and acceleration programs; government actions such as
zoning, licensing, regulation and taxation on ecosystem formation and development; the role
of immigration and/or migration; and, programs designed to support venture creation, small
business survival and venture growth. Second, the special issue was particularly interested
in submissions that explored entrepreneurial ecosystems in less obvious localities.
In particular, it was interested in rural locations, smaller cities and university towns.
Journal of Entrepreneurship and
Public Policy
Vol. 8 No. 3, 2019
pp. 293-296
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/JEPP-09-2019-115
Guest editorial

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