Evaluating Competing Theories of Informal Entrepreneurship: Some Lessons from Ukraine

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, Vol. 18 Iss: 5, 2012, pp. 528-543

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

Peter Rodgers

University of Sheffield

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Purpose – This paper evaluates critically the competing theories of informal entrepreneurship that variously represent such endeavour as a residue from a previous mode of accumulation (modernisation theory), a direct by-product of contemporary capitalism and survival strategy for those marginalised from the circuits of the modern economy (structuralism), an endeavour voluntarily pursued due to over-regulation in the formal economy (neo-liberalism) or a practice chosen for social, redistributive, political or identity reasons (post-structuralism).

Design/methodology/approach – To evaluate these competing theories, a 2005/6 survey involving face-to-face interviews with 298 informal entrepreneurs in Ukraine is analysed.

Findings – Contrary to previous studies which assert that one single theorisation is universally applicable, this study finds that each theory is valid for different types of informal entrepreneurship, and therefore proposes a typology of informal entrepreneurship that joins together the contrasting theorisations in order to achieve a more accurate and finer-grained explanation of the complex and heterogeneous configuration of informal entrepreneurship in contemporary Ukraine.

Research implications – This paper reveals the need to move beyond treating the competing explanations as mutually exclusive by outlining a typology that combines the contrasting theorisations in order to more fully understand the heterogeneity of informal entrepreneurship.

Practical/social implications – By unravelling the heterogeneity of informal entrepreneurship, a more nuanced policy approach is shown to be required which does not seek to simply either eradicate such endeavour, pursue a laissez-faire approach or harness such entrepreneurship but instead pursues all these approaches to varying extents in relation to different kinds of informal entrepreneur.

Originality/value – One of the first papers to identify and empirically evaluate the competing theories of informal entrepreneurship.

Keywords: entrepreneurship, enterprise culture, informal sector, underground economy, economic development, Ukraine, post-socialist societies

JEL Classification: H26, J46, K42, O17

Suggested Citation

Williams, Colin and Nadin, Sara and Rodgers, Peter, Evaluating Competing Theories of Informal Entrepreneurship: Some Lessons from Ukraine (2012). International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, Vol. 18 Iss: 5, 2012, pp. 528-543, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2706178

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

Peter Rodgers

University of Sheffield ( email )

17 Mappin Street
Sheffield, Sheffield S1 4DT
United Kingdom

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