Varieties of Entreprenerial Ecosystems

Friday, 3 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW1.3.01 (Tower One)
Jan Peter van den Toren, AIAS/University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Birch Research, Driebergen Rijsenburg, Netherlands
Erik Stam, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
The entrepreneurial ecosystem concept stresses how entrepreneurship and innovation are enabled by a comprehensive set of resources and actors, which have an important role to play in enabling entrepreneurial action. Most of these appear to be present locally, often requiring face-to-face contacts or local mobility. In our analysis framework conditions are financial institutions, culture, physical infrastructure and demand. Systematic conditions are networks, leadership, finance, talent, new knowledge and intermediaries.

A critical role in the functioning of these ecosystems appears to consist of forms of governance that enable connections that are sufficiently stable to enable investments but sufficiently flexible to allow recombinations for innovation to take place. In addition, particular formal and informal institutions enable these forms of governance (see Williamson, 2000), and ultimately productive entrepreneurial action. We have defined an entrepreneurial ecosystem as an interdependent set of actors that is governed in such a way that it enables entrepreneurial action.

It is relevant to make an assessment of a entrepreneurial ecoystem on a national level. In a recent analysis we for example explored four bottlenecks in the Dutch entrepreneurial ecosystem: lack of labor mobility, lack of access to enter markets for public goods and services, lack of leadership to stimulate ambitious entrepreneurship, and suboptimal knowledge circulation between public research and education institutes and society (Stam 2014).

These are relevant elements for national policy. But entrepreneurial ecosystems mostly function on a regional and/or sector level. In al lot of cases these ecosystems organize their own leadership by way of a bipartite or tripartite (triple helix) governance. These governance systems make interventions possible but also freezes a fluid ecosystem in a specific identity and direction.

In our paper we will make an inventory of Dutch entrepreneurial ecoystems, we will classify them, we will explore the governance systems they use and we look for patterns in these governance systems. We focus on the Netherlands. Historically the Netherlands are organized in sectors with a system of experiences social partners that govern labour conditions. Within this 'coordinated market economy' (Hall& Soskice 2001) a lot of room exists for sectoral variety (Crouch, Schroder&Voelskow 2009). But with the growing importance of innovation and entrepreneurship, new networks come up that form and link ecosystems and define new types of governance. We will explore these new variety and will try to figure out patterns in these combinations of ecosystems and governance. To what extent o they follow economic variety? Are these ecosystems organized on a sector or on a regional level? Do they give room to new entrants? If there is a formal board, who are in and who aren't? How are linkages with and between ecosystems developed and organized?

We will do our analysis on a newly formed database of Dutch innovation networks and will for the first time produce a typology of entrepreneurial  ecosystems in a real western European economy.