Diversity in the Knowledge Economy and Society

Diversity in the Knowledge Economy and Society

Heterogeneity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Science, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship series

Edited by Elias G. Carayannis, Aris Kaloudis and Åge Mariussen

The key message of this book is that heterogeneity should be seen as an intrinsic and indispensable element of knowledge systems. The authors address the concept of heterogeneity in a multi-disciplinary fashion, including perspectives from evolutionary economics and innovation system studies, and relate this approach to existing theories in a broad range of fields.

Chapter 7: Entrepreneurship and Heterogeneity

Olav R. Spilling

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, knowledge management, economics and finance, economics of innovation, innovation and technology, economics of innovation, innovation policy, knowledge management


Olav R. Spilling INTRODUCTION The purpose of this chapter is to discuss heterogeneity and entrepreneurship, and how entrepreneurship works as a heterogeneity-increasing mechanism as well as a heterogeneity-decreasing mechanism. The discussion is inspired by evolutionary economics as well as recent developments in more ‘standard’ economics in which there has been a growing interest in the issue of heterogeneity. However, turning to many of the basic works within the tradition of evolutionary economics and population ecology, one finds very little on the concept of heterogeneity (see for instance, Aldrich, 1999; Hannan and Freeman, 1989; Magnusson and Ottosson, 1997; Metcalfe, 1998; Nelson and Winter, 1982), although the principle of heterogeneity may be regarded as an underlying precondition for many of the evolutionary approaches (Andersen, 1994). While the key focus in analysing evolution is on mechanisms related to variation and selection, the principle of heterogeneity may be more implicit in the analyses; that is, mechanisms inducing variation contribute to increased heterogeneity, while selection mechanisms contribute to reduced heterogeneity. If there is little explicit focus on heterogeneity in the tradition of evolutionary economics, there is even less within the tradition of entrepreneurship research, where a main tendency is to analyse entrepreneurship as individualized processes in which the systemic dimension often is absent. Of course, there are exceptions to this, such as in the analysis of entrepreneurship related to the environment, and analyses of entrepreneurship based on a population ecological approach (Aldrich, 1999), or entrepreneurship analysed in the context of technological regimes (Audretsch and Acs,...

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