Dynamic Capabilities and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: The Micro-Foundations of Regional Entrepreneurship

The formation of entrepreneurial ecosystems is recognized as an activity that can produce economic development and community revitalization. Social entrepreneurship is also an activity that is receiving growing attention because of its potential for addressing social and economic problems. However, while scholars have focused on how the participants in entrepreneurial ecosystems, such as investors and support organizations, influence ecosystem functioning, it is not clear what role social entrepreneurs can play in entrepreneurial ecosystems. Nor is it known how the entrepreneurial ecosystems in which social entrepreneurs are located can influence the founding and operation of their ventures. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

In this conceptual paper, theory is proposed to explain the interrelationship between entrepreneurial ecosystems and social entrepreneurship.

It is theorized that entrepreneurial ecosystems will influence the operations and effectiveness of social entrepreneurs through mechanisms such as the ecosystem’s diversity of resource providers, support infrastructure, entrepreneurial culture, and learning opportunities. In turn, social entrepreneurs can shape the entrepreneurial ecosystems in which they are situated by influencing the heterogeneity of ecosystem participants, garnering attention for the ecosystem, and increasing its attractiveness to stakeholders.

Scholars examining entrepreneurial ecosystems have not studied the role of an increasingly important market actor: the social entrepreneur. At the same time, work on social entrepreneurship has not emphasized the community of social relations and cultural milieu in which social entrepreneurs found their ventures. The theory developed addresses both of these omissions and has important implications for practitioners focused on spurring entrepreneurial ecosystems and social entrepreneurship.

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