Innovation theatre in the entrepreneurship industry

What is this project about?

The past decade, we have witnessed an explosion in entrepreneurial activities. Incumbent organizations and non-governmental organizations develop hackathon, corporate accelerators and innovation hubs. For the young – students at Lund University not the least – entrepreneurship is a career choice with rock-star qualities. 

Paradoxically, however, this explosion in entrepreneurial activities has not corresponded to an explosion in entrepreneurial outcomes. At society level, the number of new innovative firms have been in steady decline in both Sweden and North America (Decker et al. 2016; Heyman et al. 2019), and innovation in the overall economy is stagnant (Bloom et al. 2020). At the organizational level, most new firms started – even in knowledge-intensive sectors – generate very limited economic outcomes (Nightingale & Coad 2014; Wennberg & Delmar 2010). At the individual level, working for new firms is a risky job that in general pays less than working for more established firms (Burton et al 2017; Styhre 2018). 

Instead of generating entreprneeurial outcomes, too many initatives aimed to promote entrepreneurship generate innovation theatre – activities that look like entrepreneurship, but that does not generate tangible output. Moreover, they contribute to building of an entrepreneurship industry – goods and services explicitly intended for opportunity discovery and development by current and prospective entrepreneurs (Hunt & Kiefer 2017, p.231) – but does not necessarily contribute to entrepreneurship per se. In this project, we put spotlight on the phenomena of innovation theatre and the entrepreneurship industry, aiming to create a better understanding of how entrepreneurial activities can be supported to indeed contribute to economic and societal development. 



Bloom, N., Jones, C. I., Van Reenen, J., & Webb, M. 2020. Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find? American Economic Review, 110(4): 1104-1144.

Brandl, J., & Bullinger, B. 2009. Reflections on the Societal Conditions for the Pervasiveness of Entrepreneurial Behavior in Western Societies. Journal of Management Inquiry, 18(2): 159-173.

Burton, M. D., Dahl, M. S., & Sorenson, O. 2017. Do Start-Ups Pay Less? Industrial & Labor Relations Review: 

Decker, R. A., Haltiwanger, J., Jarmin, R. S., & Miranda, J. 2016. Where Has All the Skewness Gone? The Decline in High-Growth (Young) Firms in the U.S. European Economic Review, 86: 4-23.

Heyman, F., Norbäck, P.-J., Persson, L., & Andersson, F. 2019. Has the Swedish Business Sector Become More Entrepreneurial Than the Us Business Sector? Research Policy, 48(7): 1809-1822.

Hunt, R. A., & Kiefer, K. 2017. The Entrepreneurship Industry: Influences of the Goods and Services Marketed to Entrepreneurs. Journal of Small Business Management, 55(sup1): 231-255.

Hwang, H., & Powell, W. W. 2005. Institutions and Entrepreneurship, Handbook of Entrepreneurship Research: 201-232: Springer.

Nightingale, P., & Coad, A. 2014. Muppets and Gazelles: Political and Methodological Biases in Entrepreneurship Research. Industrial and Corporate Change, 23(1): 113-143.

Styhre, A. 2018. Venture Work: Employees in Thinly Capitalized Firms: Springer.

Wennberg, K., & Delmar, F. 2010. Knowledge Intensive Entrepreneurship: The Birth, Growth, and Demise of Entrepreneurial Firms in the Knowledge Intensive Economy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.


Diamanto Politis
Phone: +46 46 222 68 26
Room: Alfa1:1076

Diamanto Politis


Anna Brattström
Senior lecturer, associate professor

Anna Brattström


Marina Vorholzer
Doctoral student

Marina Vorholzer