Department of Management

Expanding university entrepreneurial ecosystems to under-represented communities

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Emma O’Brien, Trinity College Dublin
  • ,
  • Thomas M. Cooney, Trinity College Dublin
  • ,
  • Per Blenker

Purpose: Entrepreneurship education has moved from an elitist view focussing on a start-up and picking-the-winners philosophy towards a broader enterprising behaviour approach; recognising entrepreneurship as an activity of relevance for everybody. The purpose of this paper is to extend this development and identify how university entrepreneurial ecosystems can be expanded to support communities that are under-represented in entrepreneurship. Design/methodology/approach: Based on an integrative literature review (Torraco, 2005), this paper draws together and synthesises literature from the field of entrepreneurship, higher education studies and under-represented communities in an integrated fashion, leading to the development of a new conceptual model. Findings: This paper challenges the traditional role of universities in supporting entrepreneurship as focussing mainly on economic growth and new venture creation, and identifies how universities are also positioned to provide greater civic support to entrepreneurial learning amongst under-represented communities. Through a critical analysis of the literature, the conceptual model proposed identifies six key considerations in the expansion of university entrepreneurial ecosystems for under-represented communities. Practical implications: There are currently 96.6m people at risk of poverty and social exclusion in the EU (OECD, 2017) and an estimated 43.1m Americans (US Census Bureau, 2017). This paper explores how university entrepreneurial ecosystems can be expanded to support minority and disadvantaged communities who are under-represented in terms of entrepreneurial activity. Originality/value: Given that there is little research regarding how universities might activate inclusive entrepreneurship initiatives amongst under-represented communities, this paper expands existing knowledge as it identifies the key considerations encompassing university-led community collaborative enterprise support.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy
Pages (from-to)384-407
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Enterprising behaviour, Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Entrepreneurial education, Inclusive entrepreneurship, Public policy, Social inclusion, Under-represented communities, University–community engagement

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