Title: Re-reading entrepreneurship in the hidden economy: commercial or social entrepreneurs?

Authors: Colin C. Williams; Sara Nadin

Addresses: Management School, University of Sheffield, 9 Mappin Street, Sheffield S1 4DT, UK. ' Management School, University of Sheffield, 9 Mappin Street, Sheffield S1 4DT, UK

Abstract: Since the turn of the millennium, a small but growing stream of the entrepreneurship literature has drawn attention to how a large proportion of entrepreneurs start-up their enterprises operating in the hidden economy on a wholly or partially off-the-books basis. This paper evaluates critically the assumption that these hidden entrepreneurs are engaged in commercial entrepreneurship. Reporting evidence from a 2002-2003 survey involving interviews with 28 early-stage entrepreneurs operating in the hidden economy in English rural localities, the finding is that hidden entrepreneurs range from rational economic actors pursuing a purely commercial goal through to purely social entrepreneurs pursuing solely social logics, with the majority somewhere in-between combining both commercial and social goals. The outcome is a call to begin mapping the heterogeneous logics of hidden entrepreneurs in different contexts.

Keywords: informal economy; shadow economy; underground economy; commercial entrepreneurship; social entrepreneurship; enterprise culture; nascent entrepreneurship; enterprise development; hidden economy; hidden entrepreneurs.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2011.043469

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 2011 Vol.14 No.4, pp.441 - 455

Available online: 01 Nov 2011 *

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