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The campus as entrepreneurial ecosystem: the University of Chicago


  • David J. Miller

    (George Mason University)

  • Zoltan J. Acs

    (George Mason University)


This paper employs Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier Thesis of American democracy to construct a framework for understanding the U.S. university campus as an entrepreneurial ecosystem. One question that immediately comes to mind when studying ecosystem performance is what the proper unit of analysis is: the country, the state, the city, the region, or something smaller, like an incubator or accelerator? This paper suggests that the open, innovative American frontier that closed at the end of the twentieth century has reemerged in the entrepreneurial economy on the U.S. campus. The contemporary campus entrepreneurial ecosystem offers the characteristics of Turner’s frontier: available assets, liberty, and diversity while creating opportunity, and fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. A case study of the University of Chicago explores governance of the campus as an entrepreneurial ecosystem and the output produced by that campus ecosystem.

Suggested Citation

  • David J. Miller & Zoltan J. Acs, 2017. "The campus as entrepreneurial ecosystem: the University of Chicago," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 49(1), pages 75-95, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:sbusec:v:49:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11187-017-9868-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s11187-017-9868-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Galenson, David W., 1984. "The Rise and Fall of Indentured Servitude in the Americas: An Economic Analysis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(1), pages 1-26, March.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item


    Frontier; Frederick Jackson Turner; Growth; Campus; Ecosystem; Higher education; Unicorns; Innovation; American exceptionalism; New venture creation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
    • B2 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • M1 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration


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