Rypestøl, J.O., & Aarstad, J. (2018). Entrepreneurial innovativeness and growth ambitions in thick vs thin regional innovation systems



Research in economic geography has paid increasing attention to regional innovation systems (RISs) as a potential vehicle for growth and development. Yet despite an increasing amount of research studying RISs in particular and economic regions in general, we have limited knowledge about their influence on entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. We respond to this knowledge gap and study if entrepreneurs' localization in thick vs. thin RISs affects their innovativeness and growth ambitions. Thick RISs are predominately urbanized spaces that include organizations of higher-level education, R&D intensive milieus, and an ample industry sector, while thin RISs to a lesser degree encompass these features. Empirically, we analyse 870-917 entrepreneurial firms in Agder of Southern Norway. Based on trade and labour markets, as defined by the EU's classification of local administrative units (LAU1), we identify two thick and six thin RISs in Agder. Econometric analyses show that entrepreneurs located in thick RISs are more innovative than entrepreneurs located in thin RISs, but there are no significant differences concerning entrepreneurs' growth ambitions. In light of our findings, we discuss the potential agency role played by entrepreneurial firms at