The Dynamics of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Distress


The Dynamics of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Distress


Research Question

How do entrepreneurial ecosystems with different underlying local elements (e.g., culture, government policies, and social networks) respond to global economic shocks (e.g., decreasing commodity prices). Entrepreneurial ecosystems are configurations of interconnected cultural, social, political, and financial elements within a specified geographical region that create a context supportive of entrepreneurial ventures.


CGS-SER Nielson Research Excellence Award


Research on entrepreneurial ecosystems is under-theorized with much of the extant literature focused on documenting and describing components of successful entrepreneurial ecosystems rather than understanding the dynamics of such systems. To address these issues, the objectives of this project are to study two different entrepreneurial ecosystems that share key drivers, but which differ with respect to institutional, cultural, and historical features. The city of Aberdeen, Scotland (UK) and eastern Wyoming are two such ecosystems, and are the settings, which will be used in this project. Economic development and entrepreneurial activity in these two regions have been driven in large part by strong local oil and gas markets, but are currently under increasing strains due to the decline in the pricing of these commodities. In the context of high commodity prices, entrepreneurs in these regions had the safety-net of knowing if their business venture failed they could easily find employment within other industry firms. Yet, given the current conditions of record low oil prices, both regions have seen numerous cancellations of projects and significant layoffs by major operators, which have not only had trickle-down effects for the wider economy but also impact overall government expenditures and budgets in these two regions. This situation provides a unique opportunity to compare and contrast the dynamics of entrepreneurial ecosystems to better understand how they adapt and evolve in times of stress. The research will also provide the means for identifying how various interdependent attributes of the entrepreneurial ecosystems are sustained (or not) during a time of economic distress and constrained resources. Because of the comparative context, the study also provides an opportunity to enhance understanding of how culture and institutional context in which the ecosystem is embedded shape its responses and resilience.

Methods Used

A comparative qualitative case study approach will be used to explore how different entrepreneurial ecosystems are responding to external economic shocks, specifically the decrease in oil and gas prices. Data will be collected via semi-structured interviews with entrepreneurs and economic development officials in the city of Aberdeen and eventually in the state of Wyoming.


This is new research project for which data will be collected in August of 2016. By comparing and contrasting the dynamics of different entrepreneurial ecosystems, the findings should contribute unique insights and theory development about how these systems adapt and evolve in times of stress. This project will result in a manuscript that will be appropriate for submission to entrepreneurship and/or international business journals.

Publication Date





Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations

The Dynamics of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Distress


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