Small Business Economics

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 119–140 | Cite as

The paradox of new venture legitimation within an entrepreneurial ecosystem

  • Donald F. KuratkoEmail author
  • Greg Fisher
  • James M. Bloodgood
  • Jeffrey S. Hornsby


The current rise in research on entrepreneurial ecosystems notes that many questions are still unanswered. We, therefore, theorize about a unique paradox for entrepreneurs trying to establish legitimacy for their new ventures within and beyond an entrepreneurial ecosystem; that is, when pursuing opportunities with high levels of technological or market newness, entrepreneurs confront a significant challenge in legitimizing their venture within an entrepreneurial ecosystem, while those entrepreneurs pursuing ventures using existing technologies or pursuing existing markets have a much easier path to garnering legitimacy within that ecosystem. However, the diffusion of that legitimacy beyond the ecosystem will be wider and more far-reaching for those pursuing the newer elements compared to those using existing technologies or pursuing existing markets, thus, creating a paradox of venture legitimation. Prior research outlines approaches for new venture legitimacy but it is unclear when these approaches should be applied within and beyond an entrepreneurial ecosystem. To address this paradox, we integrate ideas from the entrepreneurship and innovation literature with insights from the legitimacy literature to describe how different types of venture newness employ different legitimation strategies which results in different levels of legitimacy diffusion beyond an ecosystem. We conclude with a discussion of our concepts and offer suggestions for future research efforts.


Entrepreneurial ecosystem New ventures Newness Legitimacy Innovation 

JEL Classification

L26 L25 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald F. Kuratko
    • 1
    Email author
  • Greg Fisher
    • 1
  • James M. Bloodgood
    • 2
  • Jeffrey S. Hornsby
    • 3
  1. 1.Kelley School of BusinessIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.College of Business AdministrationKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  3. 3.Bloch School of ManagementUniversity of Missouri–Kansas CityKansas CityUSA

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