2009,07 : Entrepreneurship, evolution and geography
Entrepreneurship is a fundamental driver of economic evolution. It is also a distinctly spatially uneven process, and thus an important explanation of the uneven economic development of regions and nations. Not surprisingly, entrepreneurship is a key element of evolutionary economics (Schumpeter 1934; Witt 1998; Grebel et al. 2003; Metcalfe 2004; Grebel 2007) and has been recognized as an important element in explaining (regional) economic development (Acs and Armington 2004; Audretsch et al. 2006; Fritsch 2008). This means that the explanation of regional variations in entrepreneurship has also become an important issue. Even more so because there are pronounced differences within and between nations in rates of entrepreneurship and in their determinants (Bosma and Schutjens 2008), and these differences tend to be persistent over time, reflecting path dependence in industry structure (Brenner and Fornahl 2008), institutions (Casper 2007) and culture (Saxenian 1994) that vary widely across regions and countries, but are relatively inert over time. Introducing entrepreneurship into evolutionary economic geography means that the traditional focus on firms is complemented with a focus on individuals. This paper is an inquiry into the role of entrepreneurship in evolutionary economic geography. The focus is on how and why entrepreneurship is a distinctly spatially uneven process. We will start with a discussion on the role of entrepreneurship in the theory of economic evolution. Next, we will review the empirical literature on the geography of entrepreneurship. The paper concludes with a discussion of a future agenda for the study of entrepreneurship within evolutionary economic geography.