The Role of Knowledge

  • Michael Fritsch
  • Michael Wyrwich
Part of the International Studies in Entrepreneurship book series (ISEN, volume 40)


We investigate the role played by an entrepreneurship culture and the historical knowledge base of a region in current levels of new business formation in innovative industries. The analysis is for German regions and covers the years 1907–2016. We find a pronounced positive relationship between high levels of historical self-employment in science-based industries and new business formation in innovative industries today. This long-term legacy effect of an entrepreneurial tradition indicates the prevalence of a regional culture of entrepreneurship. Moreover, local presence and geographic proximity to a technical university founded before the year 1900 is positively related to the level of innovative start-ups more than a century later. The results show that a considerable part of the knowledge that constitutes an important source of entrepreneurial opportunities is deeply rooted in history. We draw conclusions for policy and for further research.


Innovative start-ups Universities Regional knowledge Regional cultures of entrepreneurship 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Fritsch
    • 1
  • Michael Wyrwich
    • 2
  1. 1.Friedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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