Practical Metrics and Methods (Academic Edition): Identify and develop better metrics and methods for ecosystem building.

In a nutshell: There are many metrics and methods in use in entrepreneurial ecosystem building, but they are not all widely adopted. In fact, many approaches are still emerging. Identifying effective practices for ecosystem building requires robust data, rigorous analysis, and room for experimentation. The ecosystem building process can be nonlinear and multidimensional, and there is a need for measurements that are responsive to complexity and change.

To advance metrics and methods for this field, we need more dialogue and stronger feedback loops between researchers and ecosystem builders. Collaborative research focused on developing the field of ecosystem building would allow the field to identify the principles and practices that are most effective for fostering successful entrepreneurship.

Voices from the field

We asked ecosystem builders why practical metrics and methods are important to them.

“An  ecosystem is a complex and dynamic system. We need  to provide a measurement of the ecosystem and its outcomes that exceeds the simple sum of the ecosystem elements. Thus, Identifying and developing better metrics for the field of entrepreneurial ecosystem building is important to connect the research and practical worlds in a common reflection.” – Christina Theodoraki

“Without proper metrics and methods it is very hard to collectively learn how to improve the ecosystem: these are necessary for a proper diagnosis of the ecosystem, as input for a dialogue amongst key stakeholders, to prioritize interventions, and to monitor whether or not and why the envisioned improvements are realized, and what to do about that.” – Erik Stam

“As a social scientist (and recovering physicist), helping the field become much more evidence based is imperative for our credibility, legitimacy, and effectiveness. As a practitioner, metrics matter. “You get what you measure” is a cliché for a reason 😉 But I know enough about analytics to know we need to get the measures right. You don’t need to be an econometrician to realize the risks of misleading stats. Where are the underlying models? We also too often act as if we know best practices. How DO we know their true value? There are enough myths & misconceptions around entrepreneurship as it is! Our field needs more data science – I am hopeful that those of us working on Goal 5 can help!” – Norris Krueger


Goal 5 in the Field

We asked ecosystem builders who are working in academia focusing on practical metrics and methods to share their thoughts and experiences:

Christina Theodoraki

Christina Theodoraki is Assistant professor in Entrepreneurship & Strategy at TBS – Toulouse Business School. Her thesis entitled “Towards an Ecosystem Approach to the Strategy and Performance of Incubators” received two Best Dissertation in Management and Entrepreneurship Awards. Christina is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Development Strategies at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at the University of Indiana and Business Development Manager at the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Research Network (EERN). She co-supervises a PhD thesis on “Incubator Sourcing and Performance: An Ecosystem Approach”. Her teaching areas are Management, Strategy, Business Plan and Entrepreneurial Support. Her areas of research include entrepreneurial ecosystem, entrepreneurial support, and inter-organizational strategies with a focus on business incubators. Some of her projects include:

  • (With Norris Krueger) 2020: AOM 2020 PDW “Entrepreneur-Led Economic Development: Entrepreneurial Communities through New Eyes… the Right Eyes!” (#18303, August, Vancouver)
  • 2020: Babson Collaborative Webinar Series, Entrepreneurial Ecosystems:  Challenges, Perspectives & Research agenda, Hosted by TBS (March 3rd, Toulouse)
  • 2019: Global Entrepreneurship Workshop: Advances in Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Research – TBS Business School (Nov, 18th, Toulouse)
  • (With Norris Krueger) 2019: AOM 2019 PDW “Getting Down to the Bottom-Up: Researching Ecosystems As If Entrepreneurs Mattered… As if Every Entrepreneur Mattered” (Aug, 9th, Boston)


Norris Krueger

“On the scholarly side, it’s been a joy to see newer scholars answer the call to study ecosystems outside of the institutions-dominated frame. Our nascent alliance with could end up powerful. Bringing great talent to the Goal calls will pay many dividends. The research workshops blending scholars, educators, policy makers, entrepreneurial champions, and ecosystem builders can only get better [e.g., ]. #HilbertProblems (As an educator, I am working on a webinar/MOOC to serve ecosystem builders. If you are interested in that or the research convenings, holler.) On the policy side, I’m helping those working on policy (how can we help Victor, et al. with ?) including testifying at the Idaho Legislature (and Congress.) In Idaho, I’m working to move us away from vanity metrics and helping fundraising to bring in the data ‘big guns’ and other great ecosystem builders. Moving Goal 5 forward in ESHIP, I’ve drafted most of the canvases and stepping up efforts to get projects moving.” – Norris Krueger


Nigel Adams

“We have been awarded funding by Enterprise Educators UK to create and execute the following research project with three other UK universities: University of Buckingham, Coventry University, Royal Agricultural University & University of Derby. The aim of the project is to gather data from educators which could be used to underpin the design and development of tools to support the assessment of the impact(s) of enterprising and entrepreneurial curricula. The project will comprise a desk research stage focusing on global best practice of impact measurement tools followed by a study targeting enterprise educators which will aim to develop an understanding of individuals’ definitions, practices, goals and measurements.

The research team hopes that outputs of this work will help educators to understand how key terms such as ‘enterprise education’, ‘entrepreneurship education’ and ‘entrepreneurial education’ are defined and applied in practice and, how these are currently being assessed and measured to explore impacts on students.” – Nigel Adams


Learn more & connect

Learn more about Christina’s research and articles by following on Research Gate. Follow Christina on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Follow Erik Stam on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay in the loop with his work on multiple policy, entrepreneurial and academic projects at the regional, national (countries like the Netherlands, Japan, Belgium, UK, Jordan) and supranational level (OECD, European Union).

Nigel Adams’s research project is being worked on currently with the objective of presenting the first results at the next Enterprise Educators Conference, which was due to be heldin autumn 2020. Learn more at

Norris Krueger can be easily found on social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn: ”You will meet some of the most brilliant thinkers and doers in entrepreneurship education as well as ecosystems. My needs-to-be-updated blog is at and the posts there will give you deeper insights. offers some utterly shameless self-promotion 😉

Join Norris in his efforts:

(1) Step up and join one of our projects (not just Goal 5)

(2) If you’ve got a better idea for a project, pitch it!

(3) If you’re a scholar, let’s collaborate on some papers/articles. If you’re not a scholar, tell me what your Hilbert Problem is [google it, lol]

(4) If interested in policy issues, call me! NOW more than ever, we need this.

(5) If you’re in my region, tell me how you’d like to help building this ecosystem.

(6) Have webcam, will travel. Need a keynote speaker, a consultant, or a friendly chat? I’m at your service

Anika Horn

Anika Horn is an ecosystem builder for social change, social enterprise advisor and storyteller. She is on a mission to equip ecosystem builders with the insights, resources and community to lead fulfilling lives and purpose-driven careers. Learn more about her work at and