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Does public sector crowd out entrepreneurship? Evidence from the EU regions

Eva Zikou (Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece)
Nikos Varsakelis (Department of Economics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece)
Aikaterini K. Sarri (Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 23 November 2017

Issue publication date: 23 May 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

The decision to engage in entrepreneurial activities is grounded in personal characteristics (motivation) and external environmental factors. One of the main external factors might be the structure of the regional economic activity. Does a high share of the public sector affect positively regional entrepreneurship or vice versa? Does the diversity in regional economic activity is conducive for entrepreneurial development or the regional comparative advantage as expressed by spatial economies of scale offering more entrepreneurial opportunities? Even though economic analysis has extensively examined the impact of the public sector size on the overall national economic activity (the crowding out effect), this impact has not been into scrutiny at regional level on microeconomic issues, such as the decision to engage in entrepreneurial activities. The authors further investigate the relation between diversity and entrepreneurship at regional level. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses data for 264 NUTS II EU regions. The time span of the data set is 1999-2008. The paper applies panel data analysis to explain the cross-time cross-section variation of the dependent variable: the self-employment share in total employment at regional level. In order to measure the existence of crowding out from public sector to regional entrepreneurship, the authors use the share of regional public sector gross value added over total regional gross value added. The diversity of the regional economic activity is measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschman Concentration Index across sectors.

Findings

The findings of the paper show that there is a negative correlation between public sector share and regional entrepreneurship. Hence, as at national level, the increase in the role of the public sector in the regional economic system crowds out regional entrepreneurship. The second finding indicates that the impact of the diversity of the regional economic activity on regional entrepreneurship is inconclusive.

Originality/value

The originality of this paper is due to the fact that the role of the public sector on regional economic phenomena, such as entrepreneurship, is examined for the first time. Also, the investigation of the relationship between diversity (vs localization economies) and entrepreneurship is performed using data for the full sample of regions of the European Union. The findings of the paper have significant policy implications since they provide useful inputs for the design of the regional development policy. The reduction of the public sector at regional level may contribute in entrepreneurial development and finally in regional economic growth and prosperity. Besides, the regional industrial policy should focus on the exploitation of the spatially constraint economies of scope in the framework of the Triple Helix model.

Keywords

Citation

Zikou, E., Varsakelis, N. and Sarri, A.K. (2018), "Does public sector crowd out entrepreneurship? Evidence from the EU regions", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 866-881. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-03-2017-0100

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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