World Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship
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World Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship

Edited by Léo-Paul Dana

This comprehensive reference work, written by some of the most eminent academics in the field, contains entries on numerous aspects of entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 41: Religion as an Explanatory Variable for Entrepreneurship

Léo-Paul Dana


* Léo-Paul Dana1 People with unlike cultural beliefs and religious values have looked at entrepreneurship with varying degrees of legitimacy. The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 bc), a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great, viewed entrepreneurship as unnatural and therefore illegitimate (Aristotle, 1924). Becker (1956) explained that some cultures consider business an unholy occupation. Woodrum (1985) found participation in religious activities to be a predictor of entrepreneurial success among Americans of Japanese origin. Dana (1995a) and Lumpkin and Dess (1996) advocated that a small firm’s orientation is grounded in the values of its entrepreneur. Values and culture shape the environment for entrepreneurship as well as the entrepreneurial event. Aldrich (1979) noted that the environment could provide or withhold resources. From an anthropological perspective, Stewart (1991) suggested that the legitimisation of enterprise was a function of culture. From a sociological perspective, Reynolds (1991) confirmed the importance of non-economic factors such as the legitimacy of entrepreneurship, on entrepreneurial activity. Specht (1993) emphasized the importance of cultural acceptance. Cultural acceptance of entrepreneurship varies among people with different cultural values. Likewise, people from different religious backgrounds have unlike propensities to become entrepreneurs. Farmer and Richman wrote: There is a close correlation of countries in terms of how deeply the Calvinist spirit has penetrated their economic and social behavior with real per capita income and level of economic development. Thus, in 1958, all fifteen countries of the world with per capita incomes of over $700 per year were those which had followed...

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