Call for Papers

‘Theorizing entrepreneurial ecosystems’

Special Issue for the ‘Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie’/German Journal of Economic Geography Special Issue Coordinator: Susann Schäfer (Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena) and Heike Mayer (University of Bern)

The concept of entrepreneurial ecosystems attracts considerable attention in the fields of entrepreneurship studies, economic geography, and regional studies as well as in policy consulting seeking to foster firm births as a driver for regional development (Alvedalen and Boschma 2017). Despite its growing relevance for regional policy (Start-up Genome 2017; Start-up Commons 2017), the concept so far has been applied almost exclusively on (successful) cases and empirical findings have not been used to advance the ecosystem concept theoretically. Not surprisingly, it has been criticized as being ‘underdeveloped’ (Stam and Spigel 2016) and ‘undertheorized’ (Spigel 2017).

Taking the conceptual weaknesses outlined in several review papers as a starting point (Alvedalen and Boschma 2017; Stam and Spigel 2016; Malecki 2017), the German Journal of Economic Geography (‘Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie’, invites submissions aiming to enhance the conceptualization of entrepreneurial systems. Both theoretical and theory-driven empirical papers linked to one or more of the following dimensions are welcomed:

  • Ontology of entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • Linkages and networks between the elements of an entrepreneurial ecosystem and/or between different entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • Emergence and evolution of entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • Scalar/geographical dimensions of entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • Discourses and practices linked to entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • In/exclusion of social groups and entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • Relationship of the concept of entrepreneurial ecosystems to other concepts from business studies, economic geography, entrepreneurship studies, etc.
  • Methodological approaches to measure the performance and to differentiate the elements of entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • Further topics

Please submit an extended abstract of approx. 500 words to Susann Schäfer (Susann.schaefer) by October 15, 2017. Authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to submit a full paper (8.000 words including references).

Important dates:

Submission of abstract: October 15, 2017

Author notified of initial decision: October 30, 2017

Submission of full papers: March/April 2018

Expected publication of special issue: Fall 2018/Beginning of 2019


Alvedalen J, Boschma R (2017) A critical review of entrepreneurial ecosystems research: Towards a future research agenda. European Planning Studies 25(6):887–903. doi: 10.1080/09654313.2017.1299694

Malecki EJ (2017) Entrepreneurship, ecosystems, and environments. American Association of Geographers Boston, Boston

Spigel B (2017) The Relational Organization of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 41(1):49–72. doi: 10.1111/etap.12167

Stam E, Spigel B (2016) Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. U.S.E. Discussion Paper Series(16-13):1–18

Start-up Commons (2017) Start-up Ecosystems White Paper. Accessed 14 August 2017