The Engagement of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems with the Sustainable Development Goals

  • Hassan Yassir Hassan Elshewikh

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines the role of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (EEs) in pursuing and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It specifically focuses on three SDGs, namely SDG8, SDG9, and SDG12. This research aims at understanding how actors involved in the EEs approach SDGs and why they engage with the SDGs. Drawing upon social practice theory, this research explores EEs engagement with SDGs in the specific context of Qatar. It identifies
competencies, materials, and meanings that facilitate or challenge the achievement of SDGs. The thesis uses a qualitative methodology based on an interpretivist philosophical approach. Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted with actors operating in EEs, and thematic data analysis was undertaken at micro, meso, and macro levels. The findings provide insights into the role of EEs actors and the factors that facilitate or impede the achievement of SDGs.
While the analysis was on the three elements of practice including competencies, materials and meanings, closer attention was paid to the material element of practice. This is because from thematic analysis, tangible and intangible resources were identified as important facets of practices within the EEs. Stakeholder dialogue, government and institutional support, SDG awareness, and information sharing were also identified as important factors which influence
EEs in pursuing and achieving SDGs although the emphasis was on materials. First, at a micro level, access to funds, technology, culture, and talents are identified as the key tangible and intangible resources influencing EEs in achieving the SDGs. Second, at the meso level, stakeholder dialogue and SDG awareness facilitate the communication between EEs actors and reinforce their relationship, facilitating SDG implementation. Finally, at the macro level, the government is identified as the key player in support of EEs actors to achieve SDG
through policy design, development, and implementation. The study identifies that various challenges are faced by EEs’ actors when trying to achieve SDGs, including funds accessibility, retention of workers with competent and relevant skills for business continuity, cybercrime that impact operations and, actors’ ability to engage with SDGs. Additionally, national cultural antecedents impact EEs outcomes and productivity by limiting access to opportunities because of the cultural values of the Qatari society. Specifically looking at SDG8, SDG9, and
SDG12., financial constraints and talent issues are important challenges that affect SDG8 success; bureaucratic delays in procedures harm SDG9 achievement; scarce resources and inadequate energy resource management were identified as major roadblocks to achieving SDG 12.
This thesis contributes to the field of entrepreneurship by investigating how EEs can implement SDG guidelines and promote sustainable development. EEs represent peculiar systems of interdependent actors and relations that can facilitate the achievement of longterm goals. This research starts from the peculiar characteristics of EEs and identifies the ones that can facilitate – or challenge – the achievement of goals related to sustainable development. By identifying and organising the factors that enable or limit the SDG achievement – and in particular SDG8, 9, and 12 – this research helps EEs actors to reflect on
the resources they need and the barriers they have to overcome. The findings also help to guide policymakers to facilitate the achievement of SDGs. This thesis contributes to the field of entrepreneurship by applying the social practice theory to the achievement of SDGs as well. This theory is employed to understand how actors in EEs approach the SDGs and why they engage with SDGs. This research underscores the importance of interconnected components of practices -competencies, materials, and meanings - in achieving SDGs, and explains how such components and the tangible and intangible resources shape the role
of government and stakeholder dialogue.
Date of Award1 Feb 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorDiletta Acuti (Supervisor) & Mahsa Ghaffari (Supervisor)

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