The Nature of Entrepreneurship in the Informal Sector: Evidence from England

Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, Vol. 12, No.2, pp. 239-254 (2007)

16 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2013

See all articles by Colin Williams

Colin Williams

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

Mirroring the representation of informal workers in a third world context as displaying entrepreneurial qualities, recent years have witnessed the emergence of a similar view of the informal sector in western nations as a hidden enterprise culture. Until now, however, few attempts have been made to analyze the nature and motives of informal entrepreneurs in western economies. Instead, it has been widely assumed that those engaged in entrepreneurship in the informal sector are those marginalized from the formal economy and driven out of necessity into this endeavor as a last resort. The aim of this paper is to evaluate critically this “marginalization thesis.” Reporting the findings of face-to-face structured interviews with 130 informal entrepreneurs in England, the conventional representation of these entrepreneurs as necessity-driven, as well as an emergent depiction of them as opportunity-driven, is transcended. Instead, a richer and more textured understanding of informal entrepreneurship is developed that replaces such either/or thinking by a both/and approach that depicts how the majority are concurrently both necessity- and opportunity-driven. The paper then concludes by exploring the public policy implications of this re-reading of the nature of informal entrepreneurship in western economies.

Keywords: entrepreneurship, informal economy, informal sector, England, shadow economy, underground economy, informal entrepreneurship

JEL Classification: O17, H26, H31, K42

Suggested Citation

Williams, Colin, The Nature of Entrepreneurship in the Informal Sector: Evidence from England (2007). Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, Vol. 12, No.2, pp. 239-254 (2007), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2290545 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2290545

Colin Williams (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - School of Management ( email )

15 Conduit Road
Sheffield, S10 1FL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/management/staff/williams/index

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