Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Business Administration

Major Professor

Gert-Jan de Vreede, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Matthew T. Mullarkey, DBA

Committee Member

Alan Hevner, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jean Kabongo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard Tarpey, DBA


Economic Success, Entrepreneur, Start-up, Effectiveness, ESO, Incubator


This study seeks to discover ways of improving the impact and effectiveness of entrepreneurial support organizations (ESOs) in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem of Tampa Bay, Florida. First, the study establishes a comprehensive catalog (called the “Superset”) of potential support programs that might be offered by ESOs and consumed by entrepreneurs. Through empirical data collection, the programs in the Superset are ranked by entrepreneurs and ESO leaders according to their opinion of perceived value and importance for gaining the competency in said program. The rankings allow a mapping of the regional ecosystem to identify gaps, inefficiencies, and improvement opportunities.

The study discovers a lack of collaboration within the ESO community. It further suggests that an intra-community focused implementation of initiatives across areas of emphasis (AoE) would increase the utility of the ESO Community. The suggested approach is captured in an artifact called a Playbook and an accompanying conceptual model. The Playbook is evaluated by capturing stakeholders’ sentiment concerning the likelihood of increasing ESO utility if the Playbook were implemented. The Playbook artifact is highly rated and will be handed off to an implementation team comprised of members of the ESO Community.

The findings from this research project contribute to research and practice. Several new and novel tools were added to the researcher and practitioner’s toolkits. The ESO Community Research Project Framework, ESO Community Conceptual Model, and Playbook Template can aid future projects in assessing regional entrepreneurial ecosystems, particularly ESO communities. The introduction of the Superset as a comprehensive catalog of entrepreneurial support programs establishes a starting point for future research on entrepreneurial support programs and entrepreneurs to self-assess their competencies. Finally, this study helps to fill a dearth in the research literature on Entrepreneurial Support Organizations.