Handbook of Rural Development

Handbook of Rural Development

Elgar original reference

Edited by Gary Paul Green

Although most countries in the world are rapidly urbanizing, the majority of the global population – particularly the poor – continue to live in rural areas. This Handbook rejects the popular notion that urbanization should be universally encouraged and presents clear evidence of the vital importance of rural people and places, particularly in terms of environmental conservation. Expert contributors from around the world explore how global trends, state policies and grassroots movements affect contemporary rural areas in both developed and developing countries.

Chapter 8: Entrepreneurship

Stephan J. Goetz

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, development studies, economics and finance, agricultural economics, environment, agricultural economics, environmental sociology


The study of entrepreneurship in the context of rural development has expanded markedly in recent years, with a growing number of contributions appearing mostly in economic development and regional science journals. This development is important because the promotion of entrepreneurship is nearly always a complement, if not an alternative, to traditional economic development strategies such as industrial recruitment. In fact, much of the economic development profession still places excessive emphasis on seeking economic salvation from outside the community rather than from internal sources. This chapter starts with a general definition of entrepreneurship and how it can be measured empirically, including the measurement challenges that arise especially in rural areas. This discussion is followed by a review of perceptions of entrepreneurship, and how entrepreneurial activity usually changes during the course of economic development as economies shift from natural resource to manufacturing and services-based activities. The chapter then examines whether entrepreneurship matters in terms of having positive spillovers on other local economic variables, and whether there are in fact concrete strategies that policy makers can deploy for expanding entrepreneurial activity. The final section provides a conclusion and discusses remaining research questions. There are many definitions of entrepreneurship, but most include the notion of risk taking and of innovation involving either new goods or processes and ways of doing things. One example of innovation is provided by the saying attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.

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