The Hidden Enterprise Culture

The Hidden Enterprise Culture

Entrepreneurship in the Underground Economy

Colin C. Williams

Portraying how entrepreneurs often start out conducting some or all of their trade on an ‘off-the-books’ basis and how many continue to do so once they become established, this book provides the first detailed account of the vast and ubiquitous hidden enterprise culture existing in the interstices of western economies. Until now, the role of the underground economy in enterprise creation, entrepreneurship and small business development has been largely ignored despite its widespread prevalence and importance.

Chapter 13: Raising Awareness: Towards High Commitment Societies

Colin C. Williams

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, organisation studies, economics and finance, economic crime and corruption, law - academic, corruption and economic crime, urban and regional studies, regional studies


INTRODUCTION The previous three chapters have reviewed first incentives to help business start off legitimately and then demand- and supply-side incentives to encourage the transfer of underground work into the formal realm. This chapter argues not only that it is important to raise awareness of these measures for them to be effective but also that it is necessary to deal with the low tax morality that prevails in many western societies if the hidden enterprise culture is to be formalized. This chapter deals with the need for each form of raising awareness in turn. First, a brief review is provided of the need to promote among target groups the existence of both the deterrents and incentives available to encourage underground work to be transferred into the legitimate realm. Second, the need for broader awareness-raising campaigns about the costs of underground work and benefits of legitimizing such activity are considered. The argument here will be that although introducing direct control methods in the form of incentives to encourage compliance is a way forward, this could be usefully supplemented with indirect control methods that seek to develop a ‘high commitment society’ by relaying more on internal control from the individual themselves and the wider society to elicit participation in the legitimate rather than underground economy. If pursued, this would use similar techniques to elicit behaviour change to those currently being employed in post-bureaucratic organizations that seek to win the hearts and minds of people. RAISING AWARENESS OF EXISTING INITIATIVES There is...

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