Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Program: Development, Focus, and Impact
- Paul D. ReynoldsPaul D. ReynoldsHonorary Professor of Entrepreneurship, Aston Business School
In the late 1990s, there was considerable interest in national differences in entrepreneurial activity. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) research program was developed to provide harmonized, cross-national measures of participation in business creation; business creation was considered a critical aspect of entrepreneurship. This information was considered important for understanding the national characteristics associated with business creation and its subsequent impact on economic growth. The initial effort involved 10 countries in 1999. By 2014 Adult Population Surveys (APS) had been completed 705 times in 104 countries and with six special samples; this involved 2.3 million individual interviews. While there have been changes in the administrative structure and the focus of the annual global reports, the most significant data collection procedures have been stable since 2002. The GEM APS data sets are currently the only harmonized cross-national comparisons of business creation and business ownership. Designed to provide estimates of the prevalence of both business creation and existing firms, they also allow estimates of the total number of business ventures. GEM data sets are publically available three years after completion, providing a unique resource for assessing factors affecting business creation and its subsequent role in economic growth. Systematic assessments by national experts in participating countries provide measures of the national entrepreneurial framework conditions, complementing a variety of established measures of national economic and political characteristics.
There are three distinct features that characterize the GEM initiative: the unique organizational structure, the global reports summarizing annual assessments of entrepreneurial activity, and data sets assembled and made available for public use. The initial organizational structure, a collaborative arrangement among national teams, was replaced by membership in the Global Entrepreneurship Research Association (GERA) in 2004. The annual global reports emphasize comparisons among member countries, the annual national reports the country-specific situations. Both are designed to facilitate reality-based public policy.
Data collection for the APS provides harmonized comparisons of business creation across countries and within-country time series. The APS data has made clear the substantial variation among countries, by a factor of 10; that national levels of participation are very stable over time; that business creation is much more prevalent in poorer countries; that all segments of society are active in business creation; and that business creation is an important catalyst for the processes that lead to economic growth. The National Expert Survey (NES) questionnaire data provides information about the nature of the entrepreneurial framework in the GEN countries.
There is much to be learned about the relationships between national context, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. The unique information in the GEM data sets should continue to facilitate improved understanding of this important phenomenon.