The body of literature on entrepreneurial ecosystems (EEs) is rapidly expanding, but few studies have simultaneously examined their complexity, dynamics, and context. To better understand how they evolve, we introduce the notion of EE path dependence based on an original combination of an evolutionary approach and complex adaptive system theory. We thus present a whirlwind model that takes the form of subecosystems and that integrates a structural approach with attributes and a dynamic approach with sequences. Context is addressed through narratives and entrepreneurial stories. We conducted a case study on the EE of Montpellier, France. To characterize the subecosystems, we quantified the attributes using NVivo software, showing their links and evolution over time. The results shed light on the subecosystems that contributed the most to the entrepreneurial dynamics.
This study contributes to extending path dependence theory to EEs. The results may help policymakers rethink their development strategies by setting priorities in accordance with the drivers of their EEs.