National Systems of Innovation and Entrepreneurship: In Search of a Missing Link
The literature on national systems of innovation (NIS) has neglected the issue of entrepreneurship because of several incompatibilities between the two notions. The Schumpeterian legacy, the current person-centric view of entrepreneurship, and methodological problems related to treating entrepreneurship at the macrolevel, have made it difficult to integrate entrepreneurship into the NIS perspective. At national level it is more appropriate to treat entrepreneurship as a ‘property’ (dimension) of NIS. In order to link NIS and entrepreneurship we must establish a common conceptual basis. Our argument is that the functional view of NIS and entrepreneurship presents a common basis for such an approach. We develop criteria for the entrepreneurial NIS which we define as being those that can change balance between individual and cooperative entrepreneurship; that enhance both the opportunity and skill aspects of entrepreneurship; and that can balance generation of uncertainty with support to business models and other organisations which pool uncertainty. From the NIS perspective, we explain entrepreneurship as a systemic phenomenon driven by complementarities between technological, market and institutional opportunities. This framework builds on three research traditions in the entrepreneurship/NIS literature (Schumpeterian, Kirznerian and Listian) which jointly form a multi-level, multi-dimensional framework for understanding entrepreneurship from a NIS perspective. This framework could be useful as a heuristic for empirical research on entrepreneurship. Finally, we analyse policies for entrepreneurship and find that they are highly dependent on underlying and previously discussed conceptions of entrepreneurship.
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