What is an entrepreneurial ecosystem?

What is meant by entrepreneurial ecosystems?

Every entrepreneur and their venture(s) are part of a larger (eco)system of regulatory agencies, consumers, financial institutions, equity investors, other entrepreneurs, meeting spaces, suppliers, and support services (Spigel, 2017; Stam, 2015).

What is meant by an (eco)system?

A system is defined as:

an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something. If you look closely for a minute, you can see a system must consist of three kinds of things: elements, interconnections, and a function or a purpose. (Meadows, 2008, p.11)

An (eco)system is defined as

a natural system consisting of all plants, animals, and microorganism (biotic factors) in an area functioning together with all of the non-living physical (abiotic) factors of the environment. (Christopherson, 1997)

In the business world, an ecosystem was first introduced by Moore, (1993) in the context of competitive dynamics, suggesting that firm strategy should move away from a narrow-minded industry perspective to a more holistic ecosystem view.

Entrepreneurial is defined as:

a process in which opportunities for creating new goods and services are explored, evaluated and exploited. (Schumpeter, 1934; Shane & Venkatamaran, 2000)

Entrepreneurship is often described as:

an agent of social change, which involves the transformation and reinvention of the boundaries structuring our world (Steyaert and Hjorth, 2008, p.1).

Entrepreneurship ecosystems have been most commonly defined as regions where a favorable culture and start-up friendly policies and leadership come together with human capital, abundant finance, and various institutional and infrastructural support to grow new ventures (Brush, Corbett, & Strimaitis, 2015; Isenberg, 2010; Spigel 2017; Stam, 2015).

The distinguishing features of any entrepreneurial ecosystem are the symbiotic relationships between the different stakeholders, and that they are not just about commerce but are seen as solutions to both economic and social concerns (Xavier, Kelley, Kew, Herrington, & Vorderwu¨lbecke, 2013).

Entrepreneurship has been positioned in extant literature as ‘a subversive activity’ (Bureau, 2013) with the capacity to upset the status quo, to disrupt ‘accepted ways of doing things’ and to alter ‘traditional patterns of behaviour’ (Smilor, 1997).

Entrepreneurial activity as an output of the entrepreneurial ecosystem,

Is the process by which individuals create opportunities for innovation. This innovation will eventually lead to new value in society and this is therefore the ultimate outcome of an entrepreneurial ecosystem while entrepreneurial activity is a more intermediary output of the system.


Isenberg, D. J. (2010). How to start an entrepreneurial revolution. Harvard business review, 88(6), 40-50.

Meadows, D. H. (2008). Thinking in systems: A primer. chelsea green publishing.

Schumpeter, J. (1934). Capitalism, socialism, and democracy. New York: Harper & Row

Shane, S., & Venkataraman, S. (2000). The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of management review25(1), 217-226.

Smilor, R. W. (1997). Entrepreneurship: Reflections on a subversive activity. Journal of Business Venturing, 12(5), 341-346.

Spigel, B. (2017). The relational organization of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 41(1), 49-72.

Stam, E. (2015). Entrepreneurial ecosystems and regional policy: a sympathetic critique. European Planning Studies, 23(9), 1759-1769.

Stam, F. C., & Spigel, B. (2016). Entrepreneurial ecosystems. USE Discussion paper series, 16(13).

Steyaert, C., & Hjorth, D. (Eds.). (2008). Entrepreneurship as social change: A third new movements in entrepreneurship book (Vol. 3). Edward Elgar Publishing.

Strimaitis, J. (2015). Candida Brush, Andrew Corbett and. Evolving Entrepreneurial Education: Innovation in the Babson Classroom, 427.

Xavier, S., Kelley, D., Kew, J., Herrington, M., & Vorderwülbecke, A. (2013). Global entrepreneurship monitor (GEM) 2012 global report. GERA/GEM, 648.

Other resources

Accenture Technology Vision 2018, Your company based on the company you keep, [PDF]. (2018). Retrieved from https://investor.accenture.com/~/media/Files/A/Accenture-IR/investor-toolkit/accenture-techvision-2018-tech-trends-report.pdf

Accenture Technology Vision 2019, The post-digital era is upon us. Are you ready for what’s next, [PDF]. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/pdf-94/accenture-techvision-2019-tech-trends-report.pdf

Blank, S. (2019, February, 01).  McKinsey’s three horizons model defined innovation for years. Here’s why it no longer applies. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2019/02

Bureau, S. (2013). Entrepreneurship as a subversive activity: How can entrepreneurs destroy in the process of creative destruction?. M@ n@ gement, 16(3).

Bureau, S. P., & Komporozos-Athanasiou, A. (2017). Learning subversion in the business school: An ‘improbable’encounter. Management Learning, 48(1), 39-56.

Churchill, L. R. (1982). The teaching of ethics and moral values in teaching: Some contemporary confusions. The journal of higher education, 53(3), 296-306.

Dizikes, P. (2010). Explained: Knightian uncertainty. The economic crisis has revived an old philosophical idea about risk and uncertainty. But what is it, exactly. MIT News Office, June, 2, 2010.

Drexler, M., Eltogby, M., Foster, G., Shimizu, C., Ciesinski, S., Davila, A., & McLenithan, M. (2014). Entrepreneurial ecosystems around the globe and early-stage company growth dynamics. In Geneva: World Economic Forum.

Drucker, P. F., & Maciariello, J. A. (2008). Management, revised edition. Collins, New York.

EMDIEL 2018 Uncertainty Management Handbook, Effectuation in Practice (Source: Effectuation Intelligence, 2017).

Foster, G., Shimizu, C., Ciesinski, S., Davila, A., Hassan, S., Jia, N., & Morris, R. (2013, September). Entrepreneurial ecosystems around the globe and company growth dynamics. In World Economic Forum (Vol. 11).

Gallup. (2018). The real future of work, 02 the agility issue [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/241295/future-work-agility-download.aspx#ite-241304

Halstead, J. M. (1996). Values and values education in schools. Values in education and education in values, 3-14.

Kang, S.-Y. (2019, September 11). To build the workforce of the future, we need to revolutionize how we learn. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/09/to-build-the-workforce-of-the-future-we-need-to-revolutionize-how-we-learn-wecome-to-digital-learning-2-0/

Kaplinsky, R., & Morris, M. (2000). A handbook for value chain research (Vol. 113). University of Sussex, Institute of Development Studies.

Keeney, R. L. (1994). Creativity in decision making with value-focused thinking. MIT Sloan Management Review, 35(4), 33.

Knight, F. (1921). H.,“Risk, Uncertainty and Profit”. Hart Schaffner, and Marx.

Knowledge@Wharton (Producer). (2019, August 20). What Will It Take for Uber to Become Profitable? Knowledge@Wharton. Podcast retrieved from https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/uber-profitability/

Meunier, F., Krylova Y., & Ramalho, R. (2017, November).  Women’s Entrepreneurship How to Measure the Gap between New Female and Male Entrepreneurs? World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 8242. Retrieved from: https://www.doingbusiness.org/content/dam/doingBusiness/media/Special-Reports/Womens-Entrepreneurship.pdf

Maciariello, J. (2009). Marketing and innovation in the Drucker Management System. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 37(1), 35-43.

Sarasvathy, S. D. (2001). What makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurial?.

Sarasvathy, S. D., & Venkataraman, S. (2011). Entrepreneurship as method: Open questions for an entrepreneurial future. Entrepreneurship theory and practice, 35(1), 113-135.

Schumpeter, J., & McCraw, T. K. (2007). Prophet of innovation.

Mauss, M. (2002). The gift: The form and reason for exchange in archaic societies. Routledge.


Quintos, K. (2019, January, 18). Four ways to boost the number of women entrepreneurs. Part of the World Economic Forum annual general meeting. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/Here-are-four-ways-accelerate-women-entrepreneurs/


Read, S., & Sarasvathy, S. D. (2005). Knowing what to do and doing what you know: Effectuation as a form of entrepreneurial expertise. The Journal of Private Equity, 9(1), 45-62.


Rennie, L. (2007). Values of science portrayed in out-of-school contexts. In The re-emergence of values in science education (pp. 197-212). Brill Sense.


Samsung Strategy & Innovation Center. (2018). Matt Watkinson, The Grid Decision Tool, Samsung Forum [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fxe1VJMVQ9A


Sarasvathy, S. D. (2001). What makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurial?.


Sarasvathy, S. D., & Venkataraman, S. (2011). Entrepreneurship as method: Open questions for an entrepreneurial future. Entrepreneurship theory and practice, 35(1), 113-135.


Schumpeter, J., & McCraw, T. K. (2007). Prophet of innovation.











Three Urns, An Introduction to Uncertainty: Teaching Note [DOC]. (n.d). Retrieved from http://www.effectuation.org/sites/default/files/private/teaching-instrument/three_urns_teaching_note.doc


Transparency Market Research. (2016, August 23). TMR Consumer Goods & Services, Market Research Report. Retrieved from https://www.transparencymarketresearch.com/sun-care-market.html


University of California, Davis. (n.d). 3 revolutions. What are they?. Retrieved from https://3rev.ucdavis.edu/about


Wagner Group. (2019, May 29). We are WAGNER – The Global Expert For The Perfect Surface [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Cja09VZSYTY


Watkinson, M. (2017). The Grid: The Decision-making Tool for Every Business [Kindle] (including Yours). Random House.

Weill, P., & Woerner, S. L. (2015). Thriving in an increasingly digital ecosystem. MIT Sloan Management Review, 56(4), 27.

Woetzel, J. (2015). The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth (No. id: 7570).

World Economic Forum. (2019). Doing Business 2019, Training for Reform. A World Bank Group Flagship Report [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://www.doingbusiness.org/content/dam/doingBusiness/media/Annual-Reports/English/DB2019-report_web-version.pdf.

Zarya, V. (2017). Total Value of VC Deals by Gender ($B). Retrieved from https://pitchbook.com