Why are Some Societies more Entrepreneurial than Others? Evidence from 192 Countries over 2001-2018

Posted: 7 Sep 2019

See all articles by Valentina Assenova

Valentina Assenova

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: January 25, 2019


Why do societies vary in their rates of entrepreneurship and organizational founding? Drawing on the largest available longitudinal sample comprising 192 countries over 2001-2018, I examine the evidence in relation to several explanations, including variation in the density of established organizations, national investment in research and development (R&D), technology transfer to new companies, the quality of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, venture capital (VC) availability, and governmental support and policies for entrepreneurship. Contrary to prevailing theories, there is limited empirical support for these explanations. Rather, the evidence shows that the strongest predictors of cross-national variation in entrepreneurial activity were normative, with social norms being the most strongly associated with entrepreneurialism and rates of organizational founding. This study further examines the relationship between norms and societal culture and finds that more gender-egalitarian societies and societies that value and reward performance and endorse status privileges had on average higher rates of organizational founding, net of differences in national income and economic growth. The paper discusses the implications of these findings in relation to research on the social determinants of entrepreneurship and organizational founding.

Keywords: entrepreneurship; organization theory; cross-national differences

JEL Classification: M13, L26, L53

Suggested Citation

Assenova, Valentina, Why are Some Societies more Entrepreneurial than Others? Evidence from 192 Countries over 2001-2018 (January 25, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3449762 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3449762

Valentina Assenova (Contact Author)

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania ( email )

3620 Locust Walk
SHDH Suite 2000
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

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