Journal of Business Research—Knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship and the dynamics of innovation eco

Starts:  Sep 15, 2020 09:00 (ET)
Ends:  Oct 15, 2020 23:59 (ET)
Associated with  Entrepreneurship (ENT)
Knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship (KIE) represents a socioeconomic phenomenon that drives economic competitiveness and innovative capabilities (Ács et al., 2017). These companies can be identified on the basis of four characteristics (Malerba & McKelvey, 2018):
  1. They are new ventures;
  2. They are innovative;
  3. They display significant knowledge intensity in their business activities;
  4. They exploit innovative opportunities in diverse sectors.
KIE is unevenly distributed in geographical space, which is largely attributed to heterogeneous endowments in terms of knowledge, institutions, resources and demand. Different regions are embedded in different contexts and this translates into distinct innovation dynamics. As a consequence, we observe a spiky geography of economic activities – accentuated by technological evolution (Florida & Mellander, 2014; Crescenzi & Rodríguez-Pose, 2017). The resulting patterns reinforce themselves through time because geographic proximity functions as a fundamental vector for knowledge exchange (Gilbert et al, 2004; Agrawal & Cockburn, 2003; Asheim et al., 2011).

These conditions put significant emphasis on local-level context as a determinant for KIE emergence, moving the analytical target beyond the mere understanding of firm-level capabilities (Guerrero & Urbano, 2017; Mason & Brown, 2014; Audretsch & Belitski, 2017). Accordingly, scholars have addressed the importance of interactions between elements of innovation systems and emphasized that entrepreneurial activity should be studied at the regional level, stressing the role played by networks, learning and interactions (Fischer et al., 2018; Autio et al., 2018; Alvedalen & Boschma, 2017).

In its turn, innovation ecosystems are characterized by innovative activities that rely on collaborative arrangements between firms and local institutions, universities, research institutes, technology transfer offices, sources of funding, and others. The main argument behind this rationale is related to the idea that the generation and diffusion of innovations, as well as entrepreneurial activity, are shaped by the local infrastructure, its externalities, specialized services and levels of trust involved in relationships between agents (Alvedalen & Boschma, 2017). In this context, voluntary knowledge spillovers take place, favoring open innovation strategies in incumbents. This situation generates fruitful opportunities for entrepreneurs to engage in value co-creation and to participate in established industries in spite of the dominance of large firms (Nambisan et al., 2018).

However, our understanding of these dynamics is still incomplete. First, because the ecosystemic perspective still lacks a sound theoretical foundation. Second, existing literature remains focused on static analyses of successful cases, thus missing out on dynamic approaches that look into the processual and evolutionary characteristics of ecosystems (Spigel & Harrison, 2018; Autio et al., 2018). As a result, several issues related to managerial scope of individual KIE firms and their connections with other agents within innovation ecosystems remain uncharted.

In this Special Issue we expect contributions that address topics related to some relevant questions in the field:
  • One important aspect concerning how to shape and foster innovation ecosystems as to connect technological evolution with the generation of knowledge-intensive ventures is related to the identification of critical elements and drivers of such activities. Yet, researchers and policymakers still lack a clear understanding of how these systems effectively function. Given these challenges, how should we evaluate the aggregate efficiency of an innovation/entrepreneurial ecosystem?
  • The knowledge infrastructure of innovation ecosystems has long been associated with overall capabilities of firms. Nonetheless, moving beyond the strict concept of academic entrepreneurship, we ask to what extent do universities and research institutes impact the generation of knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship?
  • Open innovation strategies of incumbents bring opportunities for KIE firms to emerge and thrive, but how do these processes occur? How are networks between KIE ventures and incumbents managed and what are the key challenges in this respect? Also, considering the heterogenous nature of KIE activity, how does it impact network management across different sectors?
  • A main issue regarding the interactions between KIE ventures and the broader innovation ecosystem refers to the dynamics of value co-creation amongst agents in an environment of open innovation. But, in order to benefit from these possibilities, how do KIE firms evolve in terms of ambidexterity and dynamic capabilities as a function of their ecosystemic embeddedness? How do these dynamics foster innovation in business models? What are the critical managerial skills for KIE firms to benefit from resources available at the ecosystemic level?
  • Innovation ecosystems and the rise of entrepreneurship are often misunderstood by a notion that drivers precede entrepreneurs in a unidirectional fashion. However, the nature of ecosystems involves endogenous processes that challenge the effectiveness of initiatives that target entrepreneurial development. Hence, how do KIE ventures and the innovation ecosystem co-evolve over time?
We also welcome other timely and relevant contributions that connect managerial aspects of KIE and the dynamics of innovation ecosystems that are not included in the topics above. We particularly encourage empirical work that can offer a multifaceted perspective on the phenomena of interest. Research based on econometric modelling, structural equation modelling, social network analysis, qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA), data envelopment analysis, and agent-based modelling will be highly valued. Guest Editors also emphasize interest in articles that go beyond the examination of well-known innovation ecosystems, thus exploring new contexts in both developed and developing economies.

Guest Editors will engage in active, multiplatform efforts to reach high-quality contributions for this Special Issue. More specifically, the distribution for the Call for Papers will involve:
  1. Three thematic workshops, one in the AOM Specialized Conference (Mexico City, Mexico, April, 2020), a second in the University of Campinas (Campinas, Brazil, July, 2020) and a third in the National Research University (Moscow, Russia, November, 2020).
  2. Articulation with the CatChain Network, funded by the European Union, and involving several institutions in Europe (UNU-Merit, Bocconi University, National Technical University of Athens, Tallin University of Technology, Institute of Baltic Studies, Grenoble Ecole de Management, Complutense University of Madrid), Latin America (University of Campinas, National University of Costa Rica) , Africa (Tshwane University of Technology), and Asia (Center for Development Study Society, University of Malaya, Center for Economic Catch-up). Knowledge-Intensive Entrepreneurship is a main research topic in this network.
  3. Announcements on Research Gate pages.
  • Bruno Fischer (
  • Maribel Guerrero (
  • Nicholas Vonortas (
  • Dirk Meissner (
  • Fabio Fiano;
Ács, Z., Stam, E., Audretsch, D., & O’Connor, A. (2017). The lineages of the entrepreneurial ecosystem approach. Small Business Economics, 49(1), 1-10.
Agrawal, A., & Cockburn, I. (2003). The anchor tenant hypothesis: exploring the role of large, local, R&D-intensive firms in regional innovation systems. International Journal of Industrial Organization, 21(9), 1227-1253.
Alvedalen, J., & Boschma, R. (2017). A critical review of entrepreneurial ecosystems research: towards a future research agenda. European Planning Studies, 25(6), 887-903.
Asheim, B., Smith, H., & Oughton, C. (2011). Regional Innovation Systems: Theory, Empirics and Policy. Regional Studies, 45(7), 875-891.
Audretsch, D., & Belitski, M. (2017). Entrepreneurial ecosystems in cities: establishing the framework conditions. Journal of Technology Transfer, 42(5), 1030-1051.
Autio, E., Nambisan, S., Thomas, L. D. W., & Wright, M. (2018). Digital affordances, spatial affordances, and the genesis of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 12(1), 72-95.
Crescenzi, R., & Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2017). The geography of innovation in China and India. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 41(6), 1010-1027.
Fischer, B., Queiroz, S., & Vonortas, N. (2018). On the location of knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship in developing countries: lessons from São Paulo, Brazil. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 30(5-6), 612-638.
Florida, R., & Mellander, C. (2014). Rise of the startup city: the changing geography of the venture capital financed innovation. [Working Paper n. 377]. Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
Gilbert, B., Audretsch, D., & McDougall, P. (2004). The emergence of entrepreneurship policy. Small Business Economics, 22(3-4), 313-323.
Guerrero, M., & Urbano, D. (2017). The impact of triple helix agents on entrepreneurial innovations' performance: An inside look at enterprises located in an emerging economy. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 119, 294-309.
Malerba, F., & McKelvey, M. (2018). Knowledge-intensive innovative entrepreneurship integrating Schumpeter, evolutionary economics, and innovation systems. Small Business Economics, forthcoming.
Mason, C., & Brown, R. (2014). Entrepreneurial ecosystems and growth oriented entrepreneurship. Paris: Final Report to OECD.
Nambisan, S., Siegel, D., & Kenney, M. (2018). On open innovation, platforms, and entrepreneurship. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 12(3), 354-368.
Spigel, B., & Harrison, R. (2018). Toward a process theory of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 12(1), 151-168.