Beyond the Commercial Versus Social Entrepreneurship Dichotomy: A Case Study of Informal Entrepreneurs

Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, Vol. 17, No. 3, 2012

17 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2015

See all articles by Colin Williams

Colin Williams

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Sara Nadin

University of Liverpool

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Despite a widespread recognition in the mainstream entrepreneurship literature that many legitimate entrepreneurs do not pursue purely profit-driven commercial goals, the small but burgeoning literature on entrepreneurship in the informal economy has assumed that entrepreneurs operating wholly or partially on an off-the-books basis are commercial rather than social entrepreneurs. To evaluate critically this assumption, evidence is reported from a survey involving face-to-face interviews with 70 informal entrepreneurs located in deprived and affluent urban and rural English localities. The finding is that informal entrepreneurs range from those pursuing purely commercial ends through to purely social entrepreneurs pursuing solely social logics, with the majority situated somewhere in-between combining both commercial and social objectives. The outcome is a call to recognize that not all informal entrepreneurs are commercial entrepreneurs and that the commercial versus social entrepreneurship dichotomy will need to be transcended if the multifarious goals underpinning informal entrepreneurship are to be better understood.

Keywords: informal sector, underground economy, shadow economy, commercial entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, enterprise culture, enterprise development

JEL Classification: H26, J46, K42, O17

Suggested Citation

Williams, Colin and Nadin, Sara, Beyond the Commercial Versus Social Entrepreneurship Dichotomy: A Case Study of Informal Entrepreneurs (2012). Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, Vol. 17, No. 3, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2706151

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

Sara Nadin

University of Liverpool ( email )

Chatham Street
Liverpool, L69 7ZH
United Kingdom

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