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Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Knowledge Creation, Sharing, and Learning

   Business School

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  Dr Bernd Wurth  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Strathclyde invites applications for a fully funded PhD to research how knowledge is created, shared, and used within entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Project details

Entrepreneurial ecosystems have become a prominent concept for researchers and policy-makers for regional economic development. There is a widely held belief in practice and policy discourse – and an assumption in most research writings – that vibrant EEs are the ‘secret sauce’ to fostering entrepreneurship, and, in particular, high-growth companies (scale-ups). The success of vibrant ecosystems such as Silicon Valley is often attributed to the fact that ‘there is something in the air’ that leads to innovation, despite recent evidence pointing towards strategic search processes as opposed to as serendipity and random encounters (Fitjar & Rodríguez-Pose, 2017).

At the individual/firm-level, these search processes and experiments are key entrepreneurial activities. Established practical blueprints that advocate learning through minimum viable products and other feedback-based mechanisms include the entrepreneurship heuristic (Ries, 2011), ‘disciplined entrepreneurship’ (Aulet, 2013), ‘value lab’ (Felin et al. 2021), and ‘test two, choose one: entrepreneurial strategy’ approach (Gans et al., 2021). These approaches have become mainstream in the pursuit of building start-ups and scale-ups, but this ‘important empirical reality’ has been largely decoupled from academic discourse. Through experimentation, entrepreneurs and firms create an emergent stock of ‘ecosystem knowledge’. However, the impact of EEs on supporting entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ventures through providing access to this knowledge is under-researched and under-theorised. What kind of knowledge emerges at the ecosystem level and how this is, in turn, transformed into firm-level competitive advantage (Tallman et al., 2004) are interesting and important questions to explore.

The successful applicant will be responsible for designing and leading a PhD research project under the supervision of experienced researchers. Drawing on, for example, entrepreneurial capital and social network theory, we welcome applications from candidates keen to pursue innovative approaches to empirical research (e.g., the use of mobile apps for data collection at the individual level or the use of novel secondary datasets) and/or formal modelling (e.g., the use of agent-based models for knowledge dynamics in ecosystems). The aim of the research is to develop new ways of conceptualising and/or measuring the influence and effectiveness of ecosystems through experimentation and organisational learning/business model innovation of the constituent entrepreneurs and firms.


Candidates are required to have:

  • An excellent undergraduate degree with Honours in a relevant social science (e.g., business and management, economics or any other cognate discipline) or overseas equivalent. We also welcome applicants with an engineering or science background, who demonstrate a strong interest in the subject.
  • A Master’s degree or equivalent work experience in a relevant subject will be strongly preferred.
  • A strong understanding of 1) the entrepreneurial process and experimentation, 2) organisational learning and business model innovation, and 3) entrepreneurial ecosystems and entrepreneurial networking.
  • Excellent analytical skills and a demonstrable aptitude to undertake research and develop into an independent researcher.
  • Prior knowledge and/or willingness to employ a combination of qualitative (e.g., document analysis, interviews) and quantitative research methods (e.g., manipulation of larger datasets, statistical analysis, agent-based modelling).
  • Experience with at least one programming language (e.g., R, python) is essential and prior work with network models, text mining, or social media data is desirable.
  • Excellent written and oral English language skills (see the application page for minimum test scores if English is not your first language).
  • Ability to work as part of a team, take on board constructive comments, and to also work independently.

Excellent interpersonal skills and a proven ability to build strong working relationships.

Funding Notes

Fully-funded scholarship for three years covers all university tuition fees (at UK level) and an annual tax-free stipend. International students are also eligible to apply, but they will need to find other funding sources to cover the difference between the home and international tuition fees. Exceptional international candidates may be provided funding for this difference.
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