Title: Explaining the off-the-books enterprise culture of Ukraine: reluctant or willing entrepreneurship?

Authors: Colin C. Williams, John Round, Peter Rodgers

Addresses: School of Management, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S1 4DT, UK. ' School of Geographical Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK. ' Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham B1 4FD, UK

Abstract: In recent years, there has been a growing realisation that beyond the realm of legitimate entrepreneurship is a large, hidden enterprise culture composed of entrepreneurs conducting some or all of their trade off-the-books. Until now, however, few have evaluated how many entrepreneurs start-up their ventures trading off-the-books and why they do so. Reporting face-to-face interviews conducted in Ukraine during 2005-2006 with 331 entrepreneurs, the finding is not only that the vast majority (90%) operate partially or wholly off-the-books, but also that they are not all driven by necessity, as a last resort and as a survival strategy into entrepreneurship. Revealing how many are willing rather than reluctant entrepreneurs; and that even those who were initially reluctant and ventured into it out of necessity, became more willing entrepreneurs over time as their business became established – the paper concludes by discussing the implications of these findings for both further research and public policy.

Keywords: entrepreneurship; necessity entrepreneurs; enterprise culture; informal economy; shadow economy; underground sector; tax compliance; Ukraine; off-the-books; reluctant entrepreneurs; public policy.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2010.033107

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 2010 Vol.10 No.2, pp.165 - 180

Published online: 08 May 2010 *

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