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Re-thinking informal entrepreneurship: Commercial or social entrepreneurs?

Published Online:pp 295-309https://doi.org/10.1504/IJSEI.2012.047632

This paper evaluates critically the assumption that entrepreneurs who start-up their business ventures operating wholly or partially off-the-books are engaged in commercial entrepreneurship. Reporting evidence from a 2005–2006 survey involving face-to-face interviews with 298 informal entrepreneurs in Ukraine, the finding is that they are not all commercially-driven. Instead, these informal entrepreneurs range from purely rational economic actors who pursue for-profit logics through to purely social entrepreneurs who pursue solely social logics, with the majority somewhere in the middle of this spectrum combining both for-profit and social rationales. The result is a call for a more nuanced understanding of the heterogeneous logics of informal entrepreneurs that recognises the existence of social entrepreneurs in the realm of informal entrepreneurship.

Keywords

informal sector, shadow economy, hidden economy, underground economy, commercial entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, enterprise culture, post-socialist economies, Ukraine

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