51st Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "New Challenges for European Regions and Urban Areas in a Globalised World", 30 August - 3 September 2011, Barcelona, Spain
Although export-oriented new ventures and the field of international entrepreneurship have received considerable attention by scholars during the last decade (Oviatt and McDougla, 2005), their potential economic impact has not been sufficiently analyzed yet. To the best of our knowledge, no studies on this issue have been carried out at regional level. Despite the increasing impact of globalization, regions have emerged as the essential and active unit of economic development process (Scott and Stopper, 2003). Regions are influential environments fostering entrepreneurship (Feldman, 2000). This is especially true for knowledge-based entrepreneurship since proximity to knowledge sources matters in order to discover opportunities and exploit them (Audretsch, 1998). Moreover, regions differ culturally and economically, and such differences encourage or discourage people to venture in entrepreneurial activity. We analyze the impact of export-oriented entrepreneurship on regional growth using data provided by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor project and the Spanish Institute of Statistics, for 17 NUTS-2 Spanish regions over a period of six years. After controlling for catching-up effects (van Stel et al., 2005), as well as, other drivers of economic growth (e.g. change in technology capability and human capital), we found evidence that those regions with a higher percentage of adult population involved in export-oriented entrepreneurship experience a higher GDP growth. This relationship is greater as the level of foreign customers served by the entrepreneurial initiatives is substantially higher (i.e., at least 1%, 25% or 75% of customers located abroad). These results support those found at national level by Hessels and van Stel (2009). However, our paper adds to the extant literature on entrepreneurship by analyzing the role of entrepreneurial activity with different levels of export intensity on regional growth under a longitudinal context. Policy implications derived from these results suggest that trade policies for export promotion among new ventures should be carried out at regional level. Otherwise, exporting new ventures may concentrate only on certain regions, which would help to increase differences on growth within a nation.