What We Know and What We Need to Know
Edited by Alain Fayolle
This chapter is concerned with the topic of researching rural enterprise. As a subset of the literature of entrepreneurship, rural entrepreneurship and in particular rural enterprise is an emerging area of study. Bryant (1989) makes an important point when he argues that the entrepreneur (and the entrepreneurial activity of other people) in the rural environment is crucial in sustaining the vitality of rural areas. Entrepreneurship in rural areas is influenced by the evolution of rural territories expressed by demographic, economic, cultural, infrastructure changes, as reflected for example by a continual decline of new entrants into farming, and population movements into or out of rural places. This distinction between entrepreneurship and enterprise is of importance because, as we have shown elsewhere (McElwee and Smith, 2011), not all examples of enterprising behaviour actually constitute entrepreneurship per se. At a policy level, there is broad consensus that enterprise generates economic growth and vitality within an economy, and is fundamental to coping with and responding to broader changes in the organization and dynamics of economic activity and interaction (McElwee and Smith, 2011). Although regional and national economies consist of urban and rural components, much of the literature on entrepreneurship has an urban-centric focus which necessitates asking whether rural enterprise is a distinctive category of entrepreneurship in its own right.
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