Chapter 6 Beyond the ecosystem metanarrative: narrative multiplicity and entrepreneurial experiences at the University of Waterloo
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Mainstream discussions within and around entrepreneurship studies have become fixated on identifying and prescribing the optimal conditions for entrepreneurial ecosystems. Corresponding discussions about "productive" entrepreneurial places are problematic not only because they often presume entrepreneurship development to be a wholly positive force. They are also problematic because the ecosystem label reifies entrepreneurial contexts: it suggests that disparate socio-economic activities are, or at least could to be, coordinated in some way. In this chapter we problematize the ecosystem metanarrative by showing Canada's most-famously entrepreneurial university as a site of entrepreneurial multiplicity. Based on a week-long ethnographic field study, we present four different narratives about student entrepreneurial experiences at the University of Waterloo. In these narratives the campus is a lonely crowd, an entrepreneurship-producing factory, a welcoming community, and/or a cult. Together, our narratives problematize the dominance of the ecosystem metanarrative in entrepreneurship research and practice. We argue that the ecosystem metanarrative implies plurivocality or polysemy - i.e., a single entrepreneurial context that can be described in numerous different ways. However, this idea of a single context also encourages a single, unifying, monologic narrative about entrepreneurship experiences because they share physical space. By presenting four other enacted narratives, we problematize the one metanarrative frame that dominates descriptions of place in entrepreneurship research and practice. Our aim is not to replace the ecosystem metanarrative, but to open-up new storytelling opportunities.

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