Understanding The Budapest Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Human Capital Flows and Social Capital Ties
Central European Business Review
Socio-economic transition in the CEE (Central and Eastern Europe) region in recent decades forms the operating context for young entrepreneurial ecosystems. This study has the aim of analysing institutional and cognitive features of CEE ecosystem development by considering Budapest as a prime example of an urban entrepreneurial ecosystem. Alongside the analysis of event registration data, a qualitative research approach is deployed featuring semistructured interviews with entrepreneurs and
... institutional actors attending a networking event in Budapest. The methodological foundation for this approach is adapted from Triple Helix ecosystem theory. A conceptual model is produced from the research process, and ecosystem theory is developed by accounting for dynamic human capital flows and social capital ties do not present in the original Triple Helix theory. Results primarily indicate moderate levels of asset values and that attendance by entrepreneurs is largely motivated by locating start-up funding. Prime outcomes of interviews are a lack of innovation-focused specific human capital and increasingly market-based means of social capital development. Furthermore, the findings presented as propositions assume a partial virtual nature for human capital flows and social capital ties between ecosystem actors. On this basis, the resulting conceptual model accounts for the presence of digitalisation. Thus, ongoing entrepreneurial ecosystem development entails continual institutional adaption to information technologydriven socio-economic conditions. The Budapest ecosystem would, however, need to acquire a stronger virtual aspect in order to realise greater growth potential. Implications for Central European audience: While research on entrepreneurial ecosystems has gained strength, it has barely been applied to the CEE region. This study represents a formative attempt in this regard whereby the resulting conceptual model may be used to empirically evaluate entrepreneurial ecosystems within the region by comparing specific internal and external human and social capital movements. The model primarily implies that digitally derived human and social capital would require deeper integration between start-up firms and institutional actors. Crucially, there is also an implicit need for institutions to develop digitalised infrastructure more intensively in order to nurture innovative start-up activity in the CEE region.