Expanding Entrepreneurial, Innovative and Sustainable (EIS) Ecosystems: A Cultural-Historical Activity Theory Perspective
The value of Entrepreneurial, Innovative and Sustainable (EIS) ecosystems has seen increasing recognition from policymakers and researchers alike. Policymakers employing New Public Management (NPM) have come to understand that the intricate links between diverse EIS stakeholders play a vital role in advancing sources of local transformation – entrepreneurship and innovation – to enhance citizen wellbeing (e.g. happiness, trust, safety and satisfaction). A persistent challenge to both academic and policy research, however, is uncovering how and why EIS ecosystem stakeholders do or do not interact to produce positive outcomes. In this chapter, we propose and explain a novel framework for analysing and assessing EIS ecosystems: activity system analysis (ASA). This methodological framework, rooted in cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), assists researchers by guiding analyses towards specific tensions and contradictions between stakeholders that prevent EIS ecosystems from developing. ASA does this by moving the analysis from ambiguous framework and systemic conditions (e.g. cultural, social and material attributes) towards the activities and objectives by stakeholders in specific locales. Additionally, it allows researchers to gain insights in the developmental trajectory of EIS ecosystems and to understand the learning actions that transform them. Ultimately, this chapter provides guidelines for performing activity-oriented research on EIS ecosystems so as to uncover the intricacies of an EIS ecosystem’s functioning. Adopting the ASA approach will enable policymakers to better understand how to improve EIS ecosystems and the quality of life for their citizens.
KeywordsActivity systems EIS ecosystems Entrepreneurship Community Expansive learning cycle
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