Business incubators and development-led entrepreneurship: a focus on entrepreneurial path-creation

Ngoasong, Michael; Njinyah, Sam and Lamptey, Richmond (2018). Business incubators and development-led entrepreneurship: a focus on entrepreneurial path-creation. In: ISBE Annual Conference 2018, 7-8 Nov 2018, Birmingham.



Aim – This paper critically explores the determinants of development-led entrepreneurship through digital business incubators in Sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on entrepreneurial path-creation. The main research question being addressed is: How do business incubators influence development-led entrepreneurship?

Methodology – The paper adopts a qualitative approach consisting of interviews with managers and entrepreneurs drawn from seven business incubators drawn from across three African countries. These were selected for their distinctive geographic context commonality and yet notable institutional and technology context differences. The data was analysed using narrative analysis. The result of the empirical analysis is the derivation of a theoretical framework from case studies.

Contribution – The paper develops and critically explores a theoretical framework for analysing the determinants development-led entrepreneurship through business incubators. The framework integrates the literature on business incubators, development-led entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial path-creation. The paper also contributes to the literature on business incubation by uncovering how entrepreneurs leverage resources in business incubators and make entry choices and post-entry strategic decisions when exploring and executing business opportunities.

Implications for policy – The results reveal how entrepreneurship that focuses on promoting development can be the focus on policy in terms of how the activities of digital entrepreneurs lead to the transformation of the economy. This, in turn, improves policy makers’ understanding of and action on the binding constraints to development. Policies to promote business incubators may not produce intended impacts on entrepreneurs and/or their SMEs where there is a risk that business incubators may become excluding organizations that strengthen existing commercial roles in society without addressing local development needs.

Implications for practice – The paper identifies how managers of incubators and their incubatee entrepreneurs must develop strategies to enhance entrepreneur’s path-creation by overcoming the constraining effects of lock-in.

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