Sociology and Entrepreneurship: Concepts and Contributions

Posted: 17 Nov 2009

See all articles by Paul D. Reynolds

Paul D. Reynolds

Florida International University, Eugenio Pino & Family Global Entrepreneurship Center

Date Written: 1991


Several perspectives have been utilized as a means of understanding entrepreneurial processes. Few studies, however, have examined entrepreneurship from a sociological perspective, prior to the 1990s. To better understand socioeconomic systems, three primary perspectives are identified: (1) a review of the socioeconomic system as both a system progressing toward equilibrium and an array of conflicting homogenous groups; (2) an evaluation of the societal and contextual factors influencing entrepreneurial activity; and (3) an exploration of the role of individual entrepreneurial behavior in the societal context. Literature reviews of the most recent research address each of these perspectives. Regarding the two perspectives for viewing the socioeconomic system, the evidence suggests that these explanations provide details as to why current socioeconomic systems appear capable of handling some of the overwhelming pressures inflicted by large, governing productive organizations. Additionally, the research regarding the impact of societal and contextual factors indicates that entrepreneurial activity, as well as favorable government policies, significantly impacts a society's economic development. Finally, the role of the individual, in term of both social factors and personality characteristics, is examined. The research suggests that an individual's social context, their perception of available opportunities, and their personality traits play a significant part in being predisposed to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. The literature points to several trends related to the impact of sociological factors upon entrepreneurial activity, and several areas for future research are identified and discussed as the significant impact of entrepreneurship upon an economy gains greater recognition. (AKP)

Keywords: Entrepreneurship research, Specialization, Equilibrium model, Socioeconomic factors, Individual traits, Social factors, Environment, Flexible firms, Economic development, Sociology, State policies, Social networks, Minority firms, Behavior (individual)

Suggested Citation

Reynolds, Paul D., Sociology and Entrepreneurship: Concepts and Contributions (1991). Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Vol. 16, Issue 2, p. 47-70 1991. Available at SSRN:

Paul D. Reynolds (Contact Author)

Florida International University, Eugenio Pino & Family Global Entrepreneurship Center ( email )

University Park
11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199
United States

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