Governing by entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial ecosystems and socio-spatial difference

Julian B. Hartman, Mark T. Kear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Literature on entrepreneurial ecosystems (EEs) has grown rapidly over the past 5 years, using the concept as a framework to understand regional clusters of entrepreneurship. This article reviews, critiques, and extends the concept of the EE, arguing for its relevance in studying the political economy of urban space. To make this argument, we distinguish between niche EEs (NEEs) and growth EEs (GEEs). This distinction is based on the overlapping but distinct networks of actors and institutions forming each type of EE and also reflects broadly different relationships to growth and productivity, the entrepreneurial subject, global and local scales, and financial ecologies. We argue that EE research has largely focused on GEEs to the neglect of NEEs; by broadening the EE concept, we address shortcomings in the treatment of small businesses, financial relations, social difference, as well as urban politics within the EE literature. Drawing on the EE literature and interviews from a case study of Boston, we show that the infrastructure of GEEs and NEEs are not only “for” fast- and slow-growing businesses, respectively, but reinforce social and economic differences. While NEEs do redistribute resources to marginalized entrepreneurs, these resources are focused on building businesses and only indirectly related to the needs of marginalized communities and equitable development more generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-227
Number of pages19
JournalCompetition and Change
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • Entrepreneurship
  • entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • financial ecologies
  • financial geography
  • innovation
  • niche entrepreneurial ecosystems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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