To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Entrepreneurial ecosystems in Poland: panacea, paper tiger or Pandora’s box?

Chay Brooks (Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Tim Vorley (Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Cristian Gherhes (Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy

ISSN: 2045-2101

Article publication date: 6 September 2019

Issue publication date: 20 September 2019




The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the role of public policy in the formation of entrepreneurial ecosystems in Poland.


The paper assumes a qualitative approach to researching and analysing how public policy enables and constrains the formation of entrepreneurial ecosystems. The authors conducted a series of focus groups with regional and national policy makers, enterprises and intermediaries in three Polish voivodeships (regions) – Malopolska, Mazowieckie and Pomorskie.


The paper finds that applying the entrepreneurial ecosystems approach is a challenging prospect for public policy characterised by a theory-practice gap. Despite the attraction of entrepreneurial ecosystems as a heuristic to foster entrepreneurial activity, the cases highlight the complexity of implementing the framework conditions in practice. As the Polish case demonstrates, there are aspects of entrepreneurial ecosystems that are beyond the immediate scope of public policy.

Research limitations/implications

The results challenge the view that the entrepreneurial ecosystems framework represents a readily implementable public policy solution to stimulate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial growth. Insights are drawn from three regions, although by their nature these are predominantly city centric, highlighting the bounded geography of entrepreneurial ecosystems.


This paper poses new questions regarding the capacity of public policy to establish and extend entrepreneurial ecosystems. While public policy can shape the framework and system conditions, the paper argues that these interventions are often based on superficial or incomplete interpretations of the entrepreneurial ecosystems literature and tend to ignore or underestimate informal institutions that can undermine these efforts. As such, by viewing the ecosystems approach as a panacea for growth policy makers risk opening Pandora’s box.



Brooks, C., Vorley, T. and Gherhes, C. (2019), "Entrepreneurial ecosystems in Poland: panacea, paper tiger or Pandora’s box?", Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 319-338.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles