With regards to the concept of sustainability, the dimensions and strategies of the rural entrepreneurship ecosystem have not been identified in most of valid literature of entrepreneurship discipline yet. The aim of this study is to conceptualize dimensions and strategies of Sustainable Rural Entrepreneurship Ecosystem (SREE) phenomenon for clarifying its dimensions and proposing regarding strategies for development of SREE. This study was conducted in two stages using an explorative mixed research design. In the first step, using a qualitative design, SREE was conceptualized, and its dimensions and strategies were developed. Therefore 6 dimensions and 36 strategies were conceptualized based on the analysis on the qualitative gathered data from the semi-structured interviews with the field experts of the research theoretical sample. In the second step, by pairwise comparisons of the quantitative method of Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), the weights of the dimensions were determined relative to each other, and the strategies were also prioritized. As a result of the study, the SREE was conceptualized so that some differences between this specific ecosystem and other ecosystems were identified. Rural entrepreneurship can be considered as a unique ecosystem that has its own characteristics and requirements in a context. Especially since the issue of bio-resources conservation has several public concerns, the importance of the SREE is greater than ever. The SREE as an independent phenomenon can provide new insights for the development of rural areas through the entrepreneurship process. Besides, from the contribution perspective, the contextualized dimensions and strategies as the developed concepts contribute to the body of knowledge in the entrepreneurship discipline based on the prominence of the context element in contemporary and future research of the entrepreneurship discipline. However, the substantive and context specific nature of the developed concepts and strategies requires future researchers to design variables according to these constructs for investigating the generalizability of these findings in more and different population frames.


entrepreneurial ecosystem, sustainable development, rural entrepreneurship, explorative mixed research design

Author Bio(s)

Mehdi Zivdar is an assistant professor in Department of Entrepreneurship, Faculty of Management and Economics at University of Sistan and Baluchestan. He holds Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship from University of Tehran. His areas of study are New Venture Creation, Entrepreneurship Theory, Entrepreneurial Decision-Making, and Corporate Entrepreneurship. Besides, his research expertise includes qualitative and mixed research methods.

Hadi Sanaeepour is an Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship at the Department of Management, Faculty of Humanities, University of Gonbad Kavous. He holds Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship from University of Tehran. His research interests are Entrepreneurship Policymaking & Development, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, Rural Entrepreneurship and SME's Development in Tourism Industry (especially in Ecotourism). His research expertise includes qualitative and mixed research methods. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: University of Gonbad Kavous, Faculty of Humanities, Shahid Fallahi St., Gonbad Kavous, P.O Box 4971799151; Email: Sanaeepour@gonbad.ac.ir.

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