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Ecological Systems Theory
Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (EST) posits that individuals are embedded within sets of environments with which they interact (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). These interactions influence their individual development, in turn affecting how they interact with the environments. He introduces five structures that affect human development: microsystems, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem. The systems overlap in a set of ‘rings’ with the individual at the core and microsystems closest to the individual (Fig. 1). EST can be applied to an entrepreneur to understand the parts of the environment supportive to the entrepreneur’s venture, as well as those elements lacking (Kline et al., 2012).
EST has been employed in tourism research to study tourists’ thoughts and behaviors (Woodside & Martin, 2008), tourism development (Fennell & Butler, 2003), the management of a natural protected area (Lacitignola, Petrosillo, Cataldi, & Zurlini, 2007), HIV/AIDS and tourism in the Dominican Republic (Padilla, Guilamo-Ramos, Bouris, & Reyes, 2010), resiliency on Thailand’s tourism-reliant coast (Larsen, Calgaro, & Thomalla, 2011), community perception of its
Fig. 1 Ecological systems theory
entrepreneurial ecosystem (Kline et al., 2012), and as a framework for the comprehensive tourism system that includes economic, social, and environmental spheres (Farrell & Twining-Ward, 2005). Below, each of the environments is outlined within a context of food entrepreneurship; see Kline, Shah, Tsao (2014) for a full outline of environmental elements needed by entrepreneurs.
The food entrepreneur’s environment not only impacts the success of the venture, but his/her ability to create value in the community beyond offering a quality product.
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