Journal of the Knowledge Economy

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 94–113 | Cite as

Quadruple Helix as a Way to Bridge the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship: The Case of an Innovation System Project in the Baltic Sea Region

  • Malin Lindberg
  • Monica Lindgren
  • Johann PackendorffEmail author


In most developed economies there exist a clear gap between men and women in terms of prevalence of entrepreneurial activity. The gender gap can be traced back to the general perceptions of gender in society, where entrepreneurial venturing is culturally defined as a masculine activity. In this paper, we analyse how such gendered norms are brought into Triple Helix innovation system models, and identify roles and challenges of NGOs in the alternative conceptualization of Quadruple Helix. Based on an exploratory case study of a Quadruple Helix innovation system project in the tourism industry, we find that NGOs may fill four roles in bridging the gender gap: (1) collaborative platforms for women-led SMEs, (2) legitimating and linking women-led SMEs to governmental and academic actors, (3) developing competences and process innovations related to entrepreneurial venturing outside traditional Triple Helix constellations and (4) carrying individual and societal aspects of entrepreneuring.


Entrepreneurship Innovation systems Gender gap Quadruple Helix Civil society organizations 



We are indebted to a number of colleagues and practitioners for assistance in the research reported here. We would especially like to thank Anneli Kikkas, Pia Levin and Annika Skoglund for their efforts in compiling the empirical material, and Sofia Händel, Margareta Spång and Gunilla Sterner for providing practical insights and analyses. We also would like to thank Cali Nuur and the anonymous reviewers for most helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. This research had not been possible without the financial support of the Central Baltic INTERREG IV A Programme 2007–2013, which is hereby gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malin Lindberg
    • 1
  • Monica Lindgren
    • 2
  • Johann Packendorff
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Human Work ScienceLuleå University of TechnologyLuleåSweden
  2. 2.School of Industrial Engineering and ManagementKTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

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