The Hidden Enterprise Culture
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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.
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Chapter 2: Studies of Entrepreneurship: The Omission of the Underground Economy

Colin C. Williams


INTRODUCTION In this chapter and the next, the scene will be set for the rest of the book by highlighting how both those studying entrepreneurship and those studying the underground economy have widely omitted to explore how they are interrelated. While the next chapter deals with how, besides a few neo-liberals seeking to extol the virtues of deregulation, those researching the underground economy in the western world have until recently largely neglected its entrepreneurial features, the focus of this chapter is on the voluminous literature on entrepreneurship and enterprise culture, and how despite the depiction of entrepreneurs as risk-taking heroes and enterprise cultures as risk societies, this literature seldom if ever questions whether this means that the game is played always by the rulebook. Notable by its absence from nearly all literature on entrepreneurship and enterprise cultures, that is, is the notion that these risk-takers and risk societies might weigh up the costs of being caught and the level of punishments and then decide to do some or all of their business on an off-the-books basis. As will be displayed, however, such a clean and legitimate representation of entrepreneurs and enterprise culture does not seem to dovetail with the lived experience in the contemporary world. Here, therefore, first the ways in which entrepreneurship and enterprise culture are depicted in the literature will be reviewed and following on from this, questions will be raised about this largely wholesome representation of entrepreneurship and enterprise culture. In doing so, the intention is to...

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