Workshop Proposal: 2011 ICSB How do you REALLY grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem?In the past year, evidence has exploded that entrepreneurial activity is absolutely critical to astrong economy. We have also seen steadily increasing research into the predictors andcorrelates of an increasingly entrepreneurial economy.But if entrepreneurial activity is so important and we are learning so much more about whatsupports entrepreneurial activity, why is it that we have seen such little work that translates ourresearch findings into practical advice?The Good News Policy-makers are finally asking us how we can grow a more entrepreneurial economy.Are we finally making the case that entrepreneurial activity is vital to a healthy economy?The Bad News Too often, our answers to policymakers fall short. For example, we have long knowngazelle high-growth ventures are important but have we successfully explained specific policyimplications?Government officials are beginning to be receptive to our research. We need to do a better job ofpersuasively translating what we know into practical recommendations.One Irony: Consider the “knowledge filter” (Audretsch et al): New, potentially useful knowledgedoes not evolve into practical value because it gets filtered. While this typically is used to look atinnovation, our knowledge of what drives entrepreneurial activity is too often stuck behind ourown knowledge filter. This workshop will identify remedies for that.Another indicator: Consider the curricula of economic development programs. Most economicdevelopment training programs’ few “entrepreneurship” offerings to their members mostly fail toreflect what we now know to be true (e.g., IEDC’s course list).
Cutting Edge DataTen years of data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (Reynolds 2010) reinforces thatthere are three key predictors of entrepreneurial activity, consistent across countries and overtime. (Global Entrepreneurship & Development Index (GEDI; Acs 2010) yields almost identicalresults.)What a million respondents over 10 years and dozens of countries tell us is that entrepreneurialactivity has three very clear predictors that we need to recognize and translate into policyrecommendations.#1) Entrepreneurial Potential is a Function of Potential Entrepreneurs. The strongest predictor of entrepreneurial activity is the prevalence of adults who areprepared for entrepreneurial activity - who have the entrepreneurial mindset?#2) Is Growing a Business Highly-Regarded? Cultural support for entrepreneurship - Do people believe theyll be encouraged if theytry, does the media "get it" Is entrepreneurship generally considered a good career option? Isentrepreneurial success rewarded by the community? All this requires an entrepreneurialecosystem that is perceived as highly supportive. Is the regional innovation system effective?#3) Is It Getting Easier or Harder to Grow a Business? (& Entrepreneurial Organizations) How hard is it to start new business in terms of bureaucratic hurdles? Note that thisapplies equally for organizations. Are existing businesses supportive of generating noveleconomic activity?Another key finding: ‘Best practices’ are insufficient for successful entrepreneurial economies.Flora (2010), WK Kellogg Foundation (2008) & Kauffman Foundation (e.g., Doss 2010) arguethat comprehensive strategies are imperative to grow an entrepreneurial economy. Improvingevery ‘piece’ of the ‘puzzle’ generates synergistic effects.
When we discuss state of the art policy recommendations for local and regional economies, weneed a multi-faceted approach. Delightfully, the GEM findings give us exactly that direction. The “entrepreneurial potential” finding argues that we need to look at themicrofoundations of entrepreneurial activity (how do we teach entrepreneurial thinking?). The “cultural/ecosystem” finding argues that we also need a macro focus onentrepreneurial ecosystems (how do we design effective innovation systems?) Finally, the third “barriers to growth” finding implies we also need a meso focus onentrepreneurial organizations (how do we promote creativity and innovation within existingorganizations?) In short, we need micro, macro and meso: • Entrepreneurial people, • Entrepreneurial communities/ecosystems, AND • Entrepreneurial organizations.This workshop brings together leading experts who are already working to translate ourentrepreneurship expertise into policy prescriptions for economic development that is trulyentrepreneurial.This group is uniquely qualified to champion translational research in entrepreneurship. Topscholars deeply immersed in their respective communities.The venue is also uniquely potent. ICSB has long taken the lead on policy recommendations(e.g., recent global conference on business creation research). ICSB members offer fertile groundto jumpstart further discussions during the workshop and afterward.The 2011 ICSB conference even includes a “Policy Day” segment of the conference. We supportthe conference theme, “Changes of Perspectives in Global Entrepreneurship & Innovation” byaddressing “changes” in by (1) what has changed in the newest, state of the art knowledge ongrowing entrepreneurship and (2) what are the changes we want to see in policy makers.