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‘The contextual determinants of urban entrepreneurship: Institutions, infrastructure and networks in the city’?

Dickinson, Melissa 2020. ‘The contextual determinants of urban entrepreneurship: Institutions, infrastructure and networks in the city’? PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This research explores the role and rising importance of entrepreneurship as a mechanism for urban economic development. In the last two decades, urban economic development has shifted from a reliance on industrial sectors to a focus on intangible assets and innovation. This has led to the growing importance of entrepreneurship as a mechanism favourable for economic development through job creation, productivity, innovation and wealth production. It is the intent of this thesis to understand variations in entrepreneurship across urban scales and to understand how context, institutions and networks shape urban entrepreneurship. It is argued that the interplay between these concepts is a key determining factor of entrepreneurial efficiencies, and variations in economic development. Institutions can influence the association between entrepreneurial activity and economic development, determining the conditions governing entrepreneurial endeavours. Entwined within the theoretical framework, network dynamics are proposed to be a key consideration facilitating an entrepreneurial system of productive interactions, and the accumulation of innovation supporting entrepreneurship and ultimately urban economic development. The research design is informed by a mixed method approach, which supports an understanding of the complexities of entrepreneurship and urban economic development. The thesis undertakes an in-depth exploration of the research phenomenon through a case study approach, analysing three UK Core Cities Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff, which centres on a structured business survey and semi-structured stakeholder interviews. A multiple case study approach facilitates a wider exploration of the influence of contextual variations in entrepreneurial activity, institutional effectiveness, network dynamics and associated interactions. The research highlights the significance of context in understanding the importance of the independencies between institutions, networks and entrepreneurship in the promotion of economic development. The empirical analysis stresses the influence of urban legacy and perceptions on entrepreneurial projections and demonstrates that a combination of “hard” and “soft” determinants influence entrepreneurship with the former fulfilling an operational requirement and the latter an entrepreneurial function. Both formal (e.g. regulatory setting) and informal (e.g. business community and community culture) institutions are perceived to have a key role impacting upon entrepreneurial activity, notably the rise of informal institutions in the presence of ineffective formal institutions (e.g. in particular, stimulating a cooperative business community reinforcing entrepreneurial endeavours). Lastly, the reinforcing link between informal institutions and network dynamics is realised. Networks are identified as a crucial determinant of innovative entrepreneurship, and more specifically shared office spaces are identified as key network enablers facilitating entrepreneurial aspirations and behaviours. This thesis concludes that there is a need for greater formal institutional support but not at the detriment of the development of informal institutions. It is recommended that public-private partnerships should be endorsed as a vehicle for a coordinated approach in the promotion of entrepreneurial business activities. Coworking spaces are crucial facilitative spaces reinforcing innovative entrepreneurship and informal institutional settings. Moreover, the presence of an informal institutional culture is a powerful force in establishing a self-reinforcing entrepreneurial business community. Overall, the research has demonstrated that entrepreneurship is a context-based phenomenon influenced by placed-based contextual variations in the formal and informal institutional setting and network dynamics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: entrepreneurship, institutions; informal institutions; formal institutions; networks; economic development; urban; context; stakeholders; case studies; interviews; surveys
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 November 2020
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2020 17:32

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