I am professor (emeritus) and former Chair of Business Dynamics, Innovation, and Economic Change at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany. I am also Associate Editor of the academic journals “Regional Studies” and “Small Business Economics”.

Ich bin Professor (Emeritus) für Volkswirtschaftslehre (Unternehmensentwicklung, Innovation und wirtschaftlichen Wandel) an der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena sowie Associate Editor der Fachzeitschriften „Regional Studies“ und „Small Business Economics“.


April 6, 2021: There is a widely held belief that agglomeration economies encourage significantly more successful and productive innovation activities. In a new paper („Is innovation (increasingly) concentrated in large cities? An international comparison“) that has just been published online in Research Policy, Michael Wyrwich and I investigate the geographic concentration of patented inventions in 14 developed countries. We find that in most countries patenting is geographically dispersed with considerable shares of patented inventions in areas other than large cities. Also, there is no general tendency that inventors in large cities are more productive, in terms of filing patents, when compared to inventors in rural areas. We conclude that while the agglomeration economies found in large cities may offer advantages for innovation activities, the extent of these advantages is not significant, and popular theories overemphasize the importance of large cities for innovation activities. See https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2021.104237

March 16, 2021: My paper „Types of Institutions and Well-Being of Self-Employed and Paid Employees in Europe“ together with Alina Sorgner and Michael Wyrwich was now published in a regular issue of Small Business Economics, vol 56 (2021), 877-901. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-019-00274-2  The results clearly indicate that fostering an entrepreneurial society in Europe is a welfare-enhancing strategy that benefits both, the self-employed and paid employees. In contrast to a widespread belief our findings suggest that labor market institutions
do not play an important role for well-being of self-employed as well as paid employees.

March 14, 2021: Korneliusz Pylak, Michael Wyrwich and I will present our work on historical roots of regional entrepreneurship in Poland in a Zoom workshop next Thursday, March 18, at 5 pm (CET). This is part of a mini-series of five Workshops on the „The Evolution, Persistence and Success of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems“. You can register at https://cardiff.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIpcOyprz0oG9MZLWoMRXXCNNqOFNHEiFfn

Here is the program of the whole Workshop series (all in UK time) Workshop Series – The Evolution, Persistence and Success of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems.

March 5, 2021: My paper „Micro dynamics and macro stability in inventor networks“ with Muhamed Kudic in Journal of Technology Transfer is now available online first at https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-021-09851-8. Based on co-patenting data of the entire population of West German inventors in the field of laser technology, we analyze the development of their network from the onset of the technology in the early 1960 over a period of 45 years. A main focus is on the highly dynamic processes at the micro-level of inventors and their ties that seem to inconsistent with the remarkable stable structures at the macro level.

February 18, 2021: Happy to announce that my paper “Synergy and Policy-making in German Innovation Systems—Smart Specialization Strategies at National, Regional, Local Levels?” with Henriette Ruhrmann and Loet Leydesdorff in Regional Studies is now available online first at https://doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2021.1872780. We apply a Triple Helix Indicator to assess synergy generated in regional innovation systems and find a high share of total synergy generated at the regional and the local level.

January 21, 2021: Very sad news! My colleague, co-editor and good friend Johannes Broecker passed away last Tuesday evening. He was rather optimistic that his incurable illness would allow him to live much longer. We lost an enthusiastic scientist. My thoughts are with him and with his family. RIP Dear Johannes!

January 21, 2021: Together with Maria Kristalova, Michael Wyrwich, and further international colleagues I co-organize two special sessions on “Historical Roots of Regional Entrepreneurship and Innovation” and “Linking entrepreneurship and regional policy”  at this year’s ERSA congress “Territorial Futures – Visions and scenarios for a resilient Europe” (Bolzano, Italy, https://ersa.org/events/60th-ersa-congress-2/). All interested participants are cordially invited to submit their abstracts for both special sessions until March 9!

January 15, 2021: My paper „One Transition Story Does Not Fit Them All: Initial regional conditions and new business formation after communism“ (with Maria Kristalova and Michael Wyrwich) was accepted for publication in the journal Post-Communist Economies. The Working Paper version can be found here https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2020-014.

January 02, 2021: Back to work! I very much hope that 2021 will be a good year for all of us with many improvements that bring us back to normal.

December 09, 2020: Proud to find out that I am listed among the World’s Top 2 % most-cited scientists in my discipline according to a recent ranking of Stanford University. See Sekar, Manigandan. (2020). World’s Top 2% Scientists by Stanford University. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.18594.45767

November 30, 2020: Die häufigsten Mörder im Tatort sind Unternehmer und Manager. Sie sind auch sehr häufig die Opfer. Was sagt das über das Unternehmerbild in Deutschland aus? – „Jobkiller“ 🙂

November 26, 2020: Here is a screenshot of the webinar with Maryann Feldman, David Audretsch and Michael Wyrwich yesterday. Great fun!

November 20, 2020: Don’t  forget to register for the Webinar on Entrepreneurship and Regional Growth in the Long Run on November 25, 2020, 14:00 CET. Michael Wyrwich and I will give an overview on our research on persistence of regional entrepreneurship and discuss implications for theory, policy and further research. David Audretsch and Maryann Feldman will be the discussants. You can register at https://www.regionalstudies.org/events/regions-cities-industry-series/#!

October 27, 2020: Great new paper with Michael Wyrwich „Initial Conditions and Regional Performance in the Aftermath of Disruptive Shocks: The Case of East Germany after Socialism“ We confirm that entrepreneurship an knowledge are the key drivers of growth, particularly in turbulent times. See: 2020 F&W Initial Conditions JERP 2020-017

Abstract: We investigate how initial conditions that existed in East Germany at the end of the socialist regime impact regional development during the turbulent shock transition to a market economic system. Our investigation spans a period of almost 30 years. Both the self-employment rate (an indication of the existence of a pre-socialist entrepreneurial tradition) and the share of the workforce with a tertiary degree have a strong positive effect on regional development. We conclude that knowledge and a tradition of entrepreneurship have long-run positive effects on development in regions that face disruptive shocks. Entrepreneurship and knowledge play a less important role for development across West German regions, where no significant shocks occurred.

August 30, 2020: In a new paper I (together with Maria Kristalova and Michael Wyrwich) investigate the effect of initial conditions at the end of the socialist period in East Germany for new business formation after German unification. We find a very important role of the levels of remaining self-employment and the share of employees with a university degree in the year 1989 for start-ups in general as well as for new businesses in innovative manufacturing industries. These differences have pronounced historical roots. Adequate policies should account for these initial conditions. We introduce a classification of East German regions with regard to the initial levels of self-employment and qualification of the workforce. See  https://ideas.repec.org/p/jrp/jrpwrp/2020-014.html

Abstract: We investigate the reasons for the pronounced regional differences of new business formation after the transformation from a socialist planned system to a market economy in East Germany. Relatively high start-up rates are found in regions that had a well-qualified workforce and a relatively high share of remaining self-employed at the end of the socialist period. This also holds for high-tech manufacturing start-ups. Based on our conclusion that policy should account for these initial regional conditions, we use two criteria to introduce a classification of regions.

August 11, 2020: A new editorial of Regional StudiesRegions in time of pandemic“ is now available online and will be published in the September issue. The article contains lots of interesting material. See https://doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2020.1798611

July 07, 2020: Just published in a regular issue: Michael Fritsch and Moritz Zoellner: The Fluidity of Inventor Networks. Journal of Technology Transfer, 45, 1063–1087. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-019-09726-z

June 18, 2020: Gerade ist das schöne Themenheft „Vereint nach drei Jahrzehnten?“ der Zeitschrift Bürger & Staat erschienen. Darin enthalten is mein Aufsatz „Ökonomisch vereint? Wirtschaftliche Unterschiede zwischen Ost- und Westdeutschland dreißig Jahre nach der Wende“. In diesem Beitrag gebe ich einen Überblick über Gründe für Entwicklungsunterschiede zwischen Ost- und Westdeutschland seit dem zweiten Weltkrieg. Download Bürger & Staat 30_Jahre_Einheit 2020

June 7, 2020: Here is a new Working Paper: Michael Fritsch, Maria Kristalova and Michael Wyrwich: Regional trajectories of entrepreneurship: the effect of socialism and transition. https://ideas.repec.org/p/jrp/jrpwrp/2020-010.html

Abstract: We investigate how major historical shocks affect regional trajectories of economic activity. To this end, we conduct a comparative analysis of the development of entrepreneurship in East and West Germany after World War II. The introduction of an anti-entrepreneurial socialist economy in East Germany in 1949, and the subsequent transformation to a market economy four decades later were major historical shocks to the economy in general, and to entrepreneurship specifically. Our comparative analysis of East and West Germany assesses how these shocks affected the level of entrepreneurship at the regional level. Surprisingly, our results show that socialism does not have a long-run negative effect on the prevalence of self-employment in East Germany, despite the severe anti-entrepreneurial policies prevalent in Soviet-style socialism. Quite to the contrary, there is actually a positive treatment effect of German separation and reunification. Further analyses suggest that current structural differences in regional levels of self-employment in Germany are not pre-dominantly due to the socialist legacy of the East, but mainly a result of the shock transformation that occurred with reunification.

June 2nd, 2020: Finally published ! Michael Fritsch, Mirko Titze and Matthias Piontek „Identifying Cooperation for Innovation―A Comparison of Data Sources.“ Industry and Innovation, 27, 630–659. https://doi.org/10.1080/13662716.2019.1650253

May 26, 2020: The OECD, the Kauffman Foundation and the Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum organize a Zoom webinar on “Entrepreneurial Recovery from COVID-19: A Comparative Forum” tomorrow, May 27, from 3 to 4:30 pm CET. Speakers include Edward Glaeser, Patricia Greene, Francesca Lotti, Chad Moutray, Gunilla Nordlof, Jonathan Potter, and myself. Registration link https://kauffman.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uQ3XJwDYQYOOD5Llokywyw

April 21, 2020: In the Section „Material“, „Start-up Compendium (Gründungsatlas)“ you can download comprehensive data on new business formation in German regions in the period 1976-2016. The time series will be extended as soon as data for further years are available.

April 21, 2020: Finally out: Michael Fritsch and Michael Wyrwich „Langfristige regionale Trends unternehmerischer Selbständigkeit reflektieren unternehmerische Kultur“ (Long-term regional trends of self-employment reflect entrepreneurial culture). In Katharina Hölzle, Victor Tiberius and Heike Surrey (eds.): Perspektiven des Entrepreneurships: Unternehmerische Konzepte zwischen Theorie und Praxis. 447-460 (Ch. 33), Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel.

Zusammenfassung: In vielen Regionen ist das Niveau unternehmerischer Selbständigkeit über längere Zeiträume sehr persistent. Diese Persistenz zeigt sich auch dann, wenn die regionale Wirtschaft drastischen Änderungen der wirtschaftlich-gesellschaftlichen Rahmenbedingungen ausgesetzt war. Eine Erklärung für diesen Befund besteht darin, dass ein hohes Niveau an unternehmerischer Selbständigkeit mit einer unternehmerischen Kultur verbunden ist. Solch eine unternehmerische Kultur lässt sich als eine informelle Institution auffassen, die sich nur über relativ lange Zeiträume verändert. Wir beschreiben die verschiedenen Elemente einer solchen Kultur unternehmerischer Selbständigkeit und gehen auf ihre Bedeutung für regionale Entwicklung ein. Abschließend weisen wir auf wirtschaftspolitische Implikationen sowie auf weiteren Forschungsbedarf hin.

April 18, 2020: The Corona crisis keeps me and my co-authors busy. Here are some new papers:

Henriette Ruhrmann, Michael Fritsch and Loet Leydesdorff: Smart Specialization Strategies at National, Regional, or Local Levels? Synergy and Policy-making in German Systems of Innovation. : https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3577495

Abstract: Employing a quantitative, data-driven tool – the Triple Helix Indicator – to microdata of firms in Germany, we develop an evidence base for innovation-policy strategies. We aim to answer the question which level of government (local, regional, national) might be most effective for strategic innovation policy-making based on smart specialization in Germany. The empirical results show that the country is decentralized to the extent that it cannot be considered a “national” innovation system. More than two-thirds of innovation-system synergy is generated at the lower levels of districts (NUTS3) and Governmental Regions (NUTS2). In high-tech and medium-tech manufacturing, former East and West Germany, as well as North and South Germany, can be considered separate sub-national innovation systems. These findings strengthen the case for region- and context-specific innovation policies. The results illustrate the value of the Triple Helix Indicator for systematic regional mapping and serve as evidence for policy-makers to expand RIS3 policy strategies to the regional and local level in Germany.

Michael Fritsch, Martin Obschonka, Fabian Wahl and Michael Wyrwich: The Deep Cultural Imprint of Roman Sandals: Evidence of  Long-lasting Effects of Roman Rule on Personality, Economic Performance, and Well-Being in Germany. https://ideas.repec.org/p/jrp/jrpwrp/2020-005.html

Abstract: We investigate whether the Roman presence in the southern part of Germany nearly 2,000 years ago had a deep imprinting effect with long run consequences on a broad spectrum of measures ranging from present-day personality profiles to a number of socioeconomic outcomes and why. Today’s populations living in the former Roman part of Germany score indeed higher on certain personality traits, have higher life and health satisfaction, longer life expectancy, generate more inventions and behave in a more entrepreneurial way. These findings help explain that regions under Roman rule have higher present-day levels of economic development in terms of GDP per capita. The effects hold when controlling for other potential historical influences. When addressing potential channels of a long term effect of Roman rule the data indicates that the Roman road network plays an important role as a mechanism in the cultural imprinting that is still perceptible today.

April 18, 2020: The second revised edition of the textbook „Ökonomische Geographie“ (in German), edited by Johannes Bröcker and myself just came out. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed. My own contributions to the book are the chapters „Entrepreneurship und regionale Entwicklung“ (Entrepreneurship and Regional Development) and „Innovation und Regionalentwicklung“ (Innovation and Regional Development). See https://www.beck-shop.de/oekonomische-geographie/product/29982744?adword=google&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIiPCMxvWe6AIVk0DTCh0Z_w71EAAYASAAEgKu-_D_BwE

April 10, 2020: Together with a larger number of colleagues (Andrea Herrmann, Gresa Latifi, Balazs Pager, Laszlo Szerb, Elisa Terragno Bogliaccini, Mark Sanders and Michael Wyrwich) I have contributed to the book  Financial and Institutional Reforms for an Entrepreneurial Society in Europe Part II: Tailoring a Reform Strategy to Germany, Italy and the UK, edited by Axel Marx, Mark Sanders and Mikael Stenkula (Berlin 2020: Springer). We designed A Reform Strategy for Germany (pp. 163-202). The text is open access https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-61007-7_7

April 8, 2020: Not a secret anymore! Today is the 65th birthday of my good friend Helmuth Albrecht where he received a Festschrift that was prepared for this event. My contribution to the book (pp. 107-115) is the article „Innovation als interdisciplinäres Forschungsfeld“ (Innovation as an interdisziplinary research field). In this article I briefly review Helmuth’s work on the early development of Laser technology in Germany and the importance of historical innovation research. The book is titled Lebenswerk Welterbe – Aspekte von Industriekultur und Industriearchäologie, von Wissenschafts- und Technigeschichte. Festschrift für Helmuth Albrecht zum 65. Geburtstag, edited by Michael Farrenkopf, Friederike Hansell and Norman Pohl, published at GNT-Verlag, Berlin 2020. https://www.gnt-verlag.de/lebenswerk-welterbe-2-1120-einleitung.html