Ben Spigel (2016) The place of culture within regional entrepreneurial practices: Mentorship in Ottawa and Waterloo, Canada. Journal of Economic Geography. [full text]

Abstract: Economic geographers have struggled over how to address the role of culture in economic processes without resorting to either structural determinism or agent-centric rationality. While culture is commonly seen as an institution affecting economic processes, there has been little consideration regarding the mechanisms connecting cultural outlooks within individual practices and actions. This article links the sociological work of Pierre Bourdieu with relational economic geography and practice perspectives to examine how cultural outlooks influence the practices of entrepreneurial actors. Through a qualitative analysis of 73 interviews, this framework is used to examine the patterns of entrepreneurial mentorship in Waterloo and Ottawa, Canada. The article finds that the significant differences in both the rates and the dynamics of mentorship between the two cities are the result of different cultural outlooks toward mentorship that have developed within each region, which in turn have fostered distinct beliefs about the value of mentoring and entrepreneurship.

B. Spigel. (2016) The relational organisation of entrepreneurial ecosystems  Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. [full text]

Abstract: Entrepreneurial ecosystems have emerged as a popular concept to explain the persistence of high-growth entrepreneurship within regions. However, as a theoretical concept ecosystems remain underdeveloped, making it difficult to understand their structure and influence on the entrepreneurship process. The article argues that ecosystems are composed of 10 cultural, social, and material attributes that provide benefits and resources to entrepreneurs and that the relationships between these attributes reproduce the ecosystem. This model is illustrated with case studies of Waterloo, Ontario, and Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The cases demonstrate the variety of different configurations that ecosystems can take.

B. Spigel. (2016) Developing and governing entrepreneurial ecosystems: The structure of entrepreneurial support programs in Edinburgh, Scotland. International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development 7(2):141-160.

Abstract: Researchers and policymakers are increasingly employing the concept of entrepreneurial ecosystems to understand the concentration of high growth ventures in certain regions. Ecosystems represent the economic, social and policy environment surrounding the entrepreneurship process. Public and privately run entrepreneurship support organisations (ESOs) form a critical part of entrepreneurial ecosystems by providing training and resources to entrepreneurs and new ventures. However, the role of ESOs within ecosystems is poorly understood with little conceptual or empirical discussions about how they contribute to the development of successful entrepreneurial ecosystems. To address this gap this paper employs the concept of institutional thickness to identify the optimum structure of support programs within a region. The role of institutional thickness is explored through an investigation of entrepreneurship support programs aimed at technology entrepreneurs in Edinburgh, UK. Forty-three ESOs are identified and their actives and types of support they provide analysed. The paper argues that there is the need for a new approach to the role of ESOs within ecosystems that looks beyond a single program but instead embraces a more holistic perspective that sees how they work in conjunction to provide support for firms throughout the venture creation and growth process.

B. Spigel. (2013) Bourdieuian approaches to the geography of entrepreneurial cultures.  Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 25(9-10); 804-818.

Abstract: Culture has emerged as an important concept within the entrepreneurship literature to help explain differences in the nature of the entrepreneurship process observed between regions, industries and socio-cultural groups. Despite voluminous research on the topic, theories about how culture affects the entrepreneurship process remain underdeveloped. Without a framework to connect culture with everyday entrepreneurial practices and strategies, it is difficult to critically compare the role of culture between multiple contexts. Such a framework is necessary when examining the influence of local cultures on entrepreneurship, given the diverse ways they can influence economic activities. This paper introduces a Bourdieuian perspective on entrepreneurial culture that can be used to explain how particular entrepreneurial cultures emerge within regions, influence the local entrepreneurship process and evolve in the face of internal and external developments. Building on existing work on Bourdieu and entrepreneurship, this paper argues that entrepreneurship research must carefully consider how the concept of culture is used if it is to be a useful factor in explaining the heterogeneous geography of entrepreneurship we observe in the modern economy.