The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) was first conceptualized in 1997 by two academics, one from London Business School and the other from Babson College. At that time, entrepreneurship was not a household name it is today and very little was known about the entrepreneurial eco-systems in countries around the world. The first reports were published in 1999 and involved ten countries, eight from the OECD together with Japan and the United States. Since then, GEM has grown to involve over 100 countries covering all geographic regions and all levels of economic activity.
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is now considered to be the most authoritative and informative study on entrepreneurship in the world today. It is unique in that it is the only major study that conducts interviews with primary sources having conducted interviews with over 2.2 million people in more than 100 countries covering all geographic regions and all levels of economic development.
More specifically, the core of GEM is the Adult population Survey (APS) and the National Expert Survey (NES) which involve structured and semi-structured interviews with a representative sample of the adult population in a country between the ages of 18 and 64 years and with key informant experts representing nine framework conditions of the entrepreneurial eco-system. For the APS, each country interviews a minimum of 2,000 respondents either face-to-face, by telephone or via the internet. The results are sent back to a GEM Data Team who harmonize the results, checks for validity and representation. By the end of 2017, GEM would have been in existence for 19 years and would have conducted APS interviews with just over 2,286,000 respondents asking in the region of 65 questions per interview and 28,000 interviews with key informant experts across 12 framework conditions.
Since inception it can truly be considered to be global in its reach and currently covers 68% of the world’s population which represent just over 86% of the world’s GDP.
GEM has a huge network of academics that are considered to be leading authorities in the field of entrepreneurship and teach in top universities and institutions around the world. GEM’s main aim is to determine what factors enhance and what factors hinder entrepreneurship and in turn effects small business development which is vital to help create employment and alleviate poverty particularly in those economies which have relatively high levels of unemployment.
The results coming out of the research done helps academics to write article for publication in top journals and which help to contribute to the understanding of the entrepreneurial eco-system of a country. It also allows for cross-country comparisons thereby assisting countries to benchmark themselves against neighbouring countries as well as to compare themselves against other economies of similar economic activity. There is little doubt that GEM has had an influence, albeit indirectly, on formulating government policy as there are many examples of how this has happened around the world. GEM is used not only by country policy makers but also by huge institutions such as the OECD to be able to help them gather data for their regional economic outlook reports.
GEM has also contribute to a better understanding of what interventions take place in a country that has helped to stimulate entrepreneurship and hence small business development.
As Executive Director of GEM, I believe that the Consortium will play an increasing supportive role with international organization such as the United Nations, the World Economic forum to name just a few. GEM is now at its cross roads as it is developing new composite indicators which will allow countries to better understand their economic strengths and weaknesses and hopefully contribute in its small way to making the world a better place to live and work.
Contributed by Mike Herrington, Executive Director of GEM Global