Daniel Shilcof


Entrepreneurship is increasingly recognised as an important component of the contemporary knowledge based economy and crucial to the attainment of economic growth and development. However, entrepreneurial activity varies significantly across space within countries. This thesis makes an original contribution by examining the determinants of spatial variations in entrepreneurship across sub-regions of Great Britain from 2008-2010. Through utilising newly available data on firm births and applying exploratory spatial data analysis and spatial econometric techniques, two prominent theories of entrepreneurship are examined. First, the Knowledge Spillover Theory of Entrepreneurship posits that underutilised knowledge by incumbent firms creates entrepreneurial opportunities. The appropriation of these opportunities through entrepreneurial activity, in the form of a new firm, leads to dynamic knowledge spillovers, which generate economic growth. The empirical analysis presented in this thesis concludes that more knowledge intensive regions exhibit significantly higher firm birth rates; however the composition of the regional knowledge stock is critical, as a diverse knowledge stock generates more entrepreneurial opportunities. Second, several theories emphasise the importance of idiosyncratic knowledge and human capital, in the form of entrepreneurial ability, on the discovery and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities. The results of this thesis suggest that human capital is vital to the entrepreneurial process, and that university education is a greater source of entrepreneurial ability than labour market experience. Furthermore, the results also suggest that the regulatory burden of the public sector, financial constraints, regional unemployment, and the absence of a local entrepreneurial culture can significantly detract from regional entrepreneurial activity. In light of these results, there are several implications for policy which include: emphasising the importance of effective policy towards intellectual property rights, targeting entrepreneurial education initiatives towards university students and graduates, and reducing unnecessary public sector regulation that can act as a ‘barrier’ to entrepreneurship.

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