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 macro-level, 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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