How to Fill the Gap Between Knowledge and Innovation
Edited by Jean Bonnet, Domingo García Pérez De Lima and Howard Van Auken
Ingrid Verheul and André van Stel INTRODUCTION 1.1 Several studies have discussed and empirically investigated the link between entrepreneurial activity and economic performance at the level of cities, regions and nations (Audretsch and Keilbach, 2004; Carree et al., 2002; Iyigun and Owen, 1999). In these studies entrepreneurs are often treated as a homogeneous group. However, in the 1980s Gartner (1985, p. 696) argued that: ‘The diversity among entrepreneurs and their ventures may be larger than the differences between entrepreneurs and nonentrepreneurs and between entrepreneurial firms and non-entrepreneurial firms’. In practice we see extensive variation between entrepreneurs, for example, in terms of motivations, human capital, goals and so on. Notwithstanding the importance of the number of small firms for economic performance, this (pure) diversity within the small business population may also play a role over and above the sheer quantity effect. It should be noted, however, that a higher number of enterprises ‘an sich’ also implies higher diversity.1 The importance of diversity in entrepreneurship can be better understood in the context of an increasing diversity in demand. Indeed, market demand has become more diverse, induced by an increase in prosperity (Jackson, 1984) and reinforced by the processes of individualization and globalization. Hence, for achieving high rates of economic growth it is important that there is a diverse supply of goods and services to match this demand for variety. A greater diversity of the entrepreneurial population – in terms of characteristics of entrepreneurs and their firms – will contribute to this supply variation. Cohen...
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