Using social science and economics perspectives, the goal of this study is to complement the dominant business administration research on entrepreneurship by increasing our knowledge about the economic-political context in which entrepreneurship and private enterprise are conducted. This book explores the role of political entrepreneurs for regional growth and entrepreneurial diversity in Sweden. We define a political entrepreneur as a politician/bureaucrat/officer/department within the publicly funded sector who with innovative approaches encourages entrepreneurship/business and where the goals are growth, employment and the common good. The approach of this book is to enrich the established research on entrepreneurship with in-depth knowledge of the conditions for entrepreneurship in Sweden. The main focus of study is the role that the political entrepreneur might play in promoting entrepreneurship, enterprise and entrepreneurial diversity in the Swedish economy.
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Daniel Silander and Charlotte Silander
Staffan Andersson and Tobias Bromander
Is entrepreneurship always contributing positively to society? This chapter demonstrates the relevance of raising this question by highlighting negative political entrepreneurship that can occur in close collaborations between entrepreneurs from the private sector and political entrepreneurs. We problematize negative entrepreneurship and its societal impact by linking it with the effects of conflicts of interest and corruption. Our general conclusion is that changes to the way public administration operates create opportunities for political entrepreneurship, but may also entail risks in terms of negative political entrepreneurship. We discuss negative political entrepreneurship by linking it with research on conflict of interest and corruption and thereby we focus the discussion on aspects that research shows has particularly negative impacts on society.
The political entrepreneur is to be found in the public sector. However, the public entrepreneur not only acts in relation to other public actors, but also in relation to the business sector with entrepreneurs. To discuss and understand who is the political entrepreneur is therefore to explore the relationships and networks between the public sector and the business sector, the entrepreneurs involved and how the political entrepreneur must act to promote favourable conditions for entrepreneurs. In times of global economic competition, economic recession and transformation of the urban and rural economic landscapes, it is important from local and regional perspectives to have political entrepreneurs that seek new opportunities for growth. This is done by changing traditional norms and values of who the entrepreneur might be and how entrepreneurship is to be conducted. It is about identifying windows of opportunities and exploring new formal and informal favourable conditions for existing and potential entrepreneurs.
For several decades, Sweden has been a country of immigration, during which process multicultural diversity has been built up. Nevertheless, equal opportunity despite ethnic or national origin seems to be a distant goal, rather than something indisputably safeguarded in a democratic welfare society of the globalization era. In light of unequal preconditions, not least in the labour market, there has for a long time been a political ambition to cultivate entrepreneurship in the immigrant population. An increasing level of self-employment – most preferably in groups that otherwise struggle hard to compete in the labour market – is expected to stimulate employment, both to the benefit of the actual entrepreneur, thus being able to make a living, and in terms of the possibility for small businesses to expand and contribute to the creation of new jobs in the economy. The attractiveness of such a win-win plan notwithstanding, reality seems to be hard to comprehend and influence. This chapter describes and discusses conditions for entrepreneurship among immigrants in Sweden. Specifically, the question of the role of public policy initiatives in this regard will be addressed. As the results from this analysis will show, there may be reasons to suspect housing segregation to be an independent factor influencing the entrepreneurial level of ambition in Sweden.
Charlotte Silander and Caroline Berggren
Women as entrepreneurs are on the political agenda in most European countries. The creation of businesses is considered to be an important way to keep the economy growing. Women are especially targeted as a potential group in order to increase the number of self-employed on the labour market since they are comparatively few. Policies to promote entrepreneurship have rapidly been more and more directed towards higher education. This approach has resulted in an increase in the number of entrepreneurship education programmes at universities and a higher expectation for graduates to become self-employed. There is, however, limited empirical research into how political entrepreneurs in Sweden pushed for, and succeeded in, promoting employment and entrepreneurship among women. Political entrepreneurs in the area of women’s entrepreneurship act within a policy frame that almost exclusively limits policy and action to the individual; that is, it focuses on ‘changing the women’ in order to fit them into the expectations of society, and lacks structurally oriented actions to really change the possibilities for women’s entrepreneurship. How these political entrepreneurs act and interact to support female entrepreneurship needs to be studied more closely in the future in empirical studies at the micro level to provide greater knowledge of political entrepreneurship.
Martin Nilsson and Tobias Bromander
In the international research community, there is an ongoing discussion about whether university education in entrepreneurship actually causes increased entrepreneurship, that is, if young students will bring new entrepreneurial skills and innovations to the working field. From the political side, particularly in countries where the universities are mostly state universities, as in most European countries, there is also an expectation that universities will contribute to entrepreneurship and economic growth in the surrounding region. In the case of Sweden, the assumption has been that universities/colleges are supposed to be regional driving forces for entrepreneurship. One of the aims behind the expansion of the number of universities across the country in the 1990s was to strengthen regional competitiveness, including the ambition to stimulate economic growth. Since then, the role of universities, as contributing to entrepreneurship and regional growth, has been problematized. So far, no empirical studies have indicated the role of the university as an exclusively successful regional driving force and no one has really concluded that universities have been successful in bringing together innovation and the ability of young students to become entrepreneurial after graduation. This chapter explores the idea of the entrepreneurial university.
Marie-Louise von Bergmann-Winberg and Yvonne von Friedrichs
Women as business entrepreneurs have been the subject of more intensive research in the last decades, not least in connection with European Union (EU) projects and inter-state comparisons. However, regional comparisons within states like the Nordic states in general and within, like Sweden in particular, are rare. In this chapter, we explore whether regional business traditions and regional structures influence women entrepreneurs, and if so, how and to what extent. The research questions are as follows: Under which conditions and with which criteria is political entrepreneurship of crucial importance as counterweight to strong business networks, or are they to be considered complementary? Does political entrepreneurship matter, and if so what would be the criteria for women’s business entrepreneurship? Do some forms of networks replace the absence of political entrepreneurship or are they to be considered as complementary? How is this affected by local or regional business climates and corresponding historical traditions?
Per Assmo and Elin Wihlborg
Political entrepreneurs in local rural settings play a partly different, but still crucial role for local development. Here the prospects for development are more constrained: there are fewer resources and people, but mainly because of a limited local market and transportation constraints. Thus, political entrepreneurs have to use specific time-spatial power strategies to make changes. However, the concept of political entrepreneur includes a variety of roles, actions and characteristics. We will thus elaborate on the meaning of political entrepreneurs in their local time-spatial setting of rural communities. If local political entrepreneurs are to become crucial actors in policy-making and local development, we have to get to know them and no longer consider them as anomalies in the policy process and use them for improved local development. This chapter contributes in three ways to the general aim of the book to show the role that the political entrepreneur might play in promoting entrepreneurship, enterprise and entrepreneurial diversity. First, we will show the importance of the time-spatial setting of the political entrepreneur by using a time-geographical approach. Second, we elaborate on different types of political entrepreneurs. Finally, we will show how differently political entrepreneurs can promote local development by presenting three illustrations based on extensive bottom-up qualitative field studies.
Daniel Silander and Charlotte Silander
This book has explored the role of political entrepreneurship in promoting growth, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial diversity in Sweden. The different chapters have contributed to a greater understanding of one or more themes of the book: (1) political entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship; (2) political entrepreneurship and regional growth; and (3) political entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial diversity. Although several chapters referred to Nordic, European and European Union (EU) conditions, the analytical focus was on Sweden, with the book providing several case and comparative illustrations on Swedish political entrepreneurship in regional and local settings. By exploring political entrepreneurship in Sweden, we believe that this book has contributed to broader insights on favourable and unfavourable conditions for entrepreneurship that transcends Swedish borders.
In recent years and not least after the latest financial and economic crisis, we have seen a strongly renewed interest for industrial policy to get the developed economies growing again. Politicians and their experts and advisers have been hunting desperately for new approaches to industrial policy and have increasingly started to act as political entrepreneurs. The renewed interest in industrial policy and the increased importance of political entrepreneurs urge us once again to ask the fundamental question of what should be the proper focus, measures and extent of industrial policy. Should the industrial policy be vertical and focus on specific industries and even specific companies or should it be horizontal and focus on improving the general conditions for all industries and firms? However, there is a related and partly more controversial question, namely, what is the proper spatial scale for policy interventions by political entrepreneurs? Should industrial policy focus on certain places and possibly focus on existing and/or emerging industrial clusters or should it be spatially neutral and not try to discriminate between different regions and places? The purpose of this chapter is to throw some light on all above questions but with some extra focus on the questions concerning the spatial aspects.