The opportunity not taken: The occupational identity of entrepreneurs in contexts of poverty

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Business Venturing, 2018, 33 (4), pp. 416 - 437
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© 2018 Elsevier Inc. Innovative entrepreneurship is an essential but often missing outcome of poverty alleviation efforts. This qualitative study set in rural Ghana explores the occupational identity of entrepreneurs, the institutions that shape it in isolated “island networks” and how it influences entrepreneurs’ practices and decisions. We find that the institutional forces of “collectivism” and “fatalism” feature prominently. Being an entrepreneur in such settings means being a mentor, market link, and community safety net, and the types of opportunities entrepreneurs pursue are largely seen as pre-destined and inherited rather than individually chosen. As a result, the pursuit of innovative opportunities may be significantly limited.
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