Purpose – The aim of this paper is to analyse enterprise policy in the United Kingdom (UK), in relation to decisions about policy, policy delivery, entrepreneurial practice and academic/consultative research. Design/methodology/approach – The paper offers and discusses a conceptual framework for analysis of the actors, decisions, and issues involved in enterprise policy‐making and policy delivery alongside the interests of the businesses they seek to serve and the academics who provide research support – to shed new light on the UK Government's challenge in satisfying its stated remit. Findings – It considers whether an all‐embracing enterprise strategy – with clear ownership and shared commitment – is a realistic alternative to the more piecemeal approach we have experienced in the past. The issues are grounded in key lessons from systems and strategy to assess their relevance to the debate. Originality/value – The change of government in the UK in 2010, the first change for 13 years, makes this debate apposite and the relevant issues discussed are an important challenge for the new coalition.