Exploring Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: A Bibliometric Review

Exploring Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: A Bibliometric Review

João Lopes (University of Beira Interior, Portugal), Luís Farinha (Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco, Portugal) and João J. Ferreira (University of Beira Interior, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6152-1.ch001


Entrepreneurial ecosystems are now central to the economic policies of nations, with particular relevance in Europe. This chapter intends to explore the evolution of the studies on innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems in order to identify gaps and new perspectives of research that can serve as a reflection to universities, political decisions, and the business fabric. Extensive research was conducted using the Web of Science database. Six clusters were found in the literature on entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems: ecosystems of innovation, entrepreneurship, region, new ventures, technology, and entrepreneurial university. New theoretical perspectives based on bibliometric analysis and new research paths have been identified.
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With the recent change in the regional development strategies policies in Europe (EU), and with continuous technological evolution, entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems are themes that have aroused interest in researchers. The term ecosystem of innovation is relatively recent, having been assigned other denominations over the last decades, such as national system, agglomeration, development blocks, entrepreneurship systems or innovation system. Thus, in the last 20 years, the innovation system approach has sharply improved the understanding of the innovation process, emphasizing its non-linear, systemic, interactive and evolutionary character (Cooke, 2013).

Entrepreneurship and innovation are mentioned as engines of economic growth and societal progress (Wennekers & Thurik, 1999). According to Schumpeter (1934), entrepreneurship encompasses the process by which individuals explore opportunities for innovation.

According to Venkataraman (2004), entrepreneurship based on technology has gained relevance as an engine of economic development and renewal of regions and territories. Audretsch, Lehmann, Paleari, and Vismara (2016) argue that there are significant differences between European regions, both across countries and within the same country, in terms of startup and firms’ growth.

The new ventures alter a region’s competitive dynamics, embedding alternative products and services in the market, thus improving the market’s economic conditions. Thus, a holistic approach to entrepreneurship has resulted in a new step in European enterprise policy, focusing on the role of the business ecosystem and the development, adaptation and sustainability processes (Ács, Autio, & Szerb, 2014). Therefore, it can be said that innovation ecosystem concept has a strong relationship with the new policies for Europe, in the research and innovation strategies for intelligent specialization (RIS3).

The articles on “Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ecosystems” focus on quite a few areas. However, some are focused on the ecosystems of innovation concept which has been adapted in some context (Hayter, 2016; Martinez-Fernandez & Potts, 2008), other articles foster the ecosystems creation (e.g. Groth, Esposito and Tse, 2015; Lopes & Franco, 2017).

As a literature gap, three points have emerged: 1) The term “innovation ecosystems” throughout history has been identified with several other terms (Rabelo & Bernus, 2015); 2) entrepreneurship must be linked to regional innovation systems (Cooke, 2001); 3) entrepreneurial ecosystems are not yet fully exploited in terms of network theory and ideas, nor is it clear how the proposed elements are connected within an entrepreneurial ecosystem (Alvedalen & Boschma, 2017), which justifies the relevance of the present study title, changing only the regional innovation systems term to the more recent homologue “innovation ecosystems”. Furthermore, it should be noted that any systematic or bibliometric review of the literature on the subject, in the Web of Science database, was found. Hence, to study the concept of “innovation ecosystems” associated to entrepreneurship makes perfect sense because companies and industries success clusters have emerged in many regions of the world, and traditional models and policies are insufficient (Enright, 2003).

In this present study, we considered studies that address “innovation ecosystems” related to “entrepreneurship”, which is also a bibliometric study, and does not exist in the works already published about the theme. Bibliometric studies are important to understand the subject study concept and evolution. The concept of “innovation ecosystems” has been selected, as the concept of “innovation ecosystems” is most frequently found in the most recent publications such as Jucevicius and Grumadaite (2014), Pellikka and Ali-Vehmas (2016), Haines (2016).

Key Terms in this Chapter

New Ventures: Is a project or activity which is new, and difficult because it involves the risk of failure.

Region: An area, especially part of a country or the world, having definable characteristics.

Entrepreneurship: The capacity and willingness to develop, organize, and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit.

Clusters: A group of similar things positioned or occurring closely together.

Innovation Ecosystems: Network of interconnected organizations, organized around a company or a platform, integrating both production and human resources, with the objective of developing new values through innovation.

RIS3: Research and innovation strategies for intelligent specialization (RIS3).

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