S15 Entrepreneurship and regional development: new perspectives on a complex relationship Convenor(s) Felix Modrego; Maria Giulia Pezzi There is currently a widespread consensus that entrepreneurship plays a key role in contemporaneous regional development. Evidence from diverse national contexts point at positive effects of entrepreneurship on a wide range of regional development outcomes, such as employment creation (Acs and Arminton, 2004), local innovation (Acs and Plummer, 2005; Beugelsdijk, 2007), competitiveness (Bosma et al., 2011), growth (Stephens et al., 2013), structural transformation (Gries and Naud, 2010) and poverty reduction (Tmavada, 2010). Such evidence has stimulated the implementation of numerous regional development policies, involving sizeable resources, targeted to the promotion of entrepreneurship and business creation around the world (Johnson, 2005; Sternberg, 2012; Stephens et al., 2013). The relationship between entrepreneurship and regional development is, however, far from being straightforward, and compelling arguments challenge the unequivocally positive role of entrepreneurial activity on local development outcomes. Shane (2009), for instance, argues that most start-ups create few and precarious jobs, are non-innovative and face a high probability of failure. Van Praag and Versloot (2007) based on an ample meta-analysis of empirical studies conclude that many of the supposed effects of small and new businesses are not larger than those of large/old/incumbent firms. Economic models of entrepreneurship and growth usually arrive at the result that there are optimal levels of entrepreneurship in the economy, and point at the risk of an excess of entrepreneurship leading to a sub-optimal allocation of human (Michelacci, 2003) or financial (Meza and Webb, 1987) resources. From an operational point of view, some authors point at methodological problems obscuring the relationships between entrepreneurship and development, such as ill-constructed definitions (Carree and Thrurik, 2003), imperfect metrics of regional entrepreneurship (Parker, 2009), and/or endogeneity problems obscuring the attribution of causal effects (Glaeser et al., 2015). These arguments have even led some authors to make emphatic calls to discourage, instead of encourage, current entrepreneurship support initiatives (Shane, 2009; Parker, 2007). Given the intellectual interest and the policy relevance of the topic, a critical, evidence-based reflection on the role of entrepreneurship for regional development seems timely and necessary. After all, entrepreneurship is only one among many possible regional ‘growth regimes’ (Audretsch and Fritsch, 2002), and there is no a priori reason to believe that it is more effective than other alternative paths, such as, for instance, one based on the growth of local incumbent firms. The session aims at contributing to the reflection on the roles of entrepreneurship for regional development. It proposes a cross-disciplinary approach to the understanding of the potential and challenges for entrepreneurship as a tool for strengthening regional and local economies. The session encourages, particularly, the submission of papers addressing innovative aspects and methodological advancements to the study of the relationships between entrepreneurship and regional/local development. This includes (but does not limit to): •
Broadening the understanding of the effects of entrepreneurial activity on regional development outcomes (e.g. on poverty, inequality, small firms’ productivity, work and life satisfaction, etc.). Evidence stemming from developing and emerging economies. Theoretical and practical approaches to the study of local entrepreneurship as a form of resilience to the implications of geographical and economic marginality.
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Innovative experiences and approaches to enhance the pro-development effects local entrepreneurship. Considerations on regional gender variations in entrepreneurship and the factors influencing them. Rigorous and comprehensive evaluations of place-based interventions aimed at spurring local entrepreneurial activity and/or of entrepreneurship support programs pointing at kick starting local/regional development processes. Assessment of the conditions that influence (e.g. favor or hinder) the emergence of Community-Based Enterprises in regions, and how CBE impact on grassroots efforts toward local development. Methodological innovations, such as innovative data sources and/or research designs that tackle major challenges obscuring the relationship between entrepreneurship and regional development outcomes (e.g. definitions, metrics, endogeneity problems).