Does the Winning Region Take All? Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, Support Organizations, and Domain Knowledge


The role of entrepreneurial ecosystems (EEs) receiving increased attention. These EEs are composed not only of startups but also organizations and individuals that support startups. Research has been ambivalent about whether an EE is spatially bounded or can include distant organizations. Further, the literature has not reached a consensus as to whether entrepreneurial versus industrial domain knowledge is of greater importance. Finally, most EE studies, when empirical, use panel data, though conceptual development recognizes that EEs are not static but, rather, are emergent and evolving.

We use the history of initial public offerings (IPOs) in the internet industry to explore the location of not only the IPO firm but also the firm’s lawyers, lead investment banker, venture capitalists (VCs), and other board members. This data provides insight into how the location of the EE actors evolves as an industry matures. We show that, although startups have become slightly more concentrated in the greater Silicon Valley (SV), the organizations that support entrepreneurship have tended to become more concentrated, particularly among VCs and non- VC board members. We hypothesize that, whereas entrepreneurial support skills are generic, a region that can combine these support skills with domain skills can become dominant in providing startup support not only within a region but also across regions. Thus, although knowledge about how to start an internet firm remained dispersed, a merger of entrepreneurial support and domain knowledge occurred in SV and increased the concentration of organizations that support entrepreneurship.

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Yating Li
Donald Patton
Publication date: 
July 6, 2021
Publication type: 
Working Paper