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Ben Spigel

Researchers have long acknowledged the importance of culture in the innovation process. However, while culture is well integrated into frameworks such as Regional Innovation Systems (RIS), the actual processes through which cultural outlooks influence innovative activities is still poorly understood. Beyond this, culture is frequently viewed in an overly simplified way in which only one cultural attribute (such as ethnicity or geography) is seen as a deterministic force in the innovation process. The chapter provides a sympathetic critique of the ways in which culture is employed in RIS research and suggests that the work of Pierre Bourdieu is useful as an alternative to understand the role of overlapping and often confluent cultural outlooks within regions. This framework views innovation as a bundle of practices that actors employ based on their position within multiple, overlapping ‘fields’ of power relations and norms. The framework allows for a more nuanced appreciation for the role of culture that acknowledges the role of multiple sources of cultural influence.

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Ben Spigel

This chapter defines entrepreneurial ecosystems and lays out the core arguments of the book. It reviews several common definitions of entrepreneurial ecosystems and the most popular ecosystem models. It situates the rise of ecosystem thinking with broader intellectual trends and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the natural metaphor of entrepreneurial ecosystems.

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Ben Spigel

While the popularity of entrepreneurial ecosystems is new, the idea is based on a foundation of prior work. This chapter locates the origins of entrepreneurial ecosystem concepts in five research domains: high-growth entrepreneurship, context, embeddedness, clusters and regional innovation systems, and finally entrepreneurial environments. The emergence of ecosystem thinking is also linked with three changes in how entrepreneurship and economic development policies are done: lean business models, digital affordances, and local policy devolution. This chapter examines all these research foundations and identifies the salient points they contribute to entrepreneurial ecosystems.

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Ben Spigel

One of the major research areas of ecosystems has been identifying the individual and organisational actors and social and economic factors that are associated with strong entrepreneurial ecosystems. This chapter examines the most commonly cited ecosystem actors and factors in the literature to identify their role ecosystems. Each different element of an ecosystem plays a different role in how they emerge, change, and ultimately affect the high-growth entrepreneurship process.

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Ben Spigel

Investigating the types of actors and factors associated with successful ecosystems is just the first step in ecosystems research. To understand how ecosystems ultimately support scale-up entrepreneurship we must examine the practices and processes that occur within them. This chapter looks at two key ecosystem practices, networking and learning, which enable entrepreneurs to benefit from their ecosystem, along with two key processes through which ecosystems change over time: emergence and recycling. The chapter argues that practices and processes are crucial for understanding how ecosystems work and how they can be connected with other theories of social action.

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Ben Spigel

Thinking about entrepreneurial ecosystems comes from studies of ecosystems in countries in North America and Western Europe. However, there is substantial interest in entrepreneurial ecosystems in developing and emerging economies throughout the Global South. It is not clear the extent to which theories of ecosystems developed in the West can be applied to these new contexts. This chapter examines what we know about global entrepreneurial ecosystems and how models of ecosystems can be extended to better fit different economic and social contexts.

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Ben Spigel

The rapid growth of research on entrepreneurial ecosystems has led to many issues and gaps in the literature. This chapter reviews the major critiques of ecosystems research. The chapter looks at four types of critiques: lack of a strong theoretical framework, lack of attention to the relationships within and between ecosystems, lack of policy impact, and that ecosystems are connected with neoliberal politics. The chapter discusses how these critiques can motivate future research agendas.

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Ben Spigel

This chapter concludes the book by summarising the main arguments made in the book: that ecosystems are distinctive from other ideas like clusters and innovation systems; that more than lists of actors and factors, ecosystems are defined by the practices and processes that constitute them; and that there is no single model of what an ecosystem should look like. These arguments are connected with why ecosystems matter to researchers, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. The chapter concludes by discussing potential research avenues that entrepreneurial ecosystems can take in order to become a more rigorous and relevant domain.

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Ben Spigel

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Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Theory, Practice and Futures

Ben Spigel

This is a guide to understanding entrepreneurial ecosystems: what they are, why they matter, and to whom they matter. Ben Spigel explores this popular new theory of economic development, locating the intellectual roots of ecosystems, explaining the practices and processes that allow ecosystems to support the creation and growth of innovative entrepreneurial firms.