Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Macro Innovation 13 (final): Ecosystems

In the last of my macro-innovation series I want to just mention the increasing use of the 'ecosystem' as an emerging term particularly in relation to entrepreneurship. just google "entrepreneurial ecosystems".

I do not actually dislike the analogy to ecosystems but what I find problematic is the use of the term (a) as though everybody intuitively understands what the term means and (b) that there is only one 'ecosystem' framework.

The key question you should ask whenever you read (...) ecosystem is what are we talking about.


The first thing to consider is that the study of ecosystems is incredibly complex with a huge variety of sub-topics - boundary definitions, to ecosystem types (forests, deserts and marine etc), tropic levels, food webs system productivity, disturbance and resilience etc etc.

So parameters matter?

  1. energy into the system (sun) and water converted into other matter (plants)
  2. biomass - accumulation of living matter
  3. productivity - conversation of energy
Trophic structures

Miller & Levine Biology

Food webs and chains.

Miller & Levine Biology

A food web is entire food structure within a given ecosystem, but within the web there are specific chains - individual tropic levels.

Entrepreneurial ecosystems.

What are we talking about, is it population ecology - a critical mass of similar enterprises and the conditions under which they survive or fail?

Are we thinking ecosystem ecology - energy into the system and then a tropic level of success?

Generally, I think it is a nice fuzzy term where the interactions in the system don't need to be explained - we just have an ecosystem. 

I think there are really useful concepts that we could learn from ecology we just aren't.

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