Title: Re-thinking informal entrepreneurship: 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: 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; informal entrepreneurship; off-the-books.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSEI.2012.047632

International Journal of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 2012 Vol.1 No.3, pp.295 - 309

Available online: 05 Jul 2012 *

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