Chapter 20: Institutions and international entrepreneurship
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Even in the current ‘hard’ economic times, governments and individuals hold up entrepreneurship as the way in which economies can recover and grow. Global entrepreneurship, however, is a topic that is much discussed but difficult to track. Scholars estimate that more than 500 million people per year are involved in establishing new firms (Moya, 2008) and that early-stage entrepreneurial activity makes up a significant portion of GDP (GEMS, 2010). The importance of the phenomenon has been paralleled by an increased amount of research on international entrepreneurship (IE). The research in this area parallels the broad range of activity that is occurring in this arena, from rates of founding of new firms across countries to the role that traits of individual entrepreneurs play in choice to become an entrepreneur (see Acs et al., 2003; Autio, 2005; Oviatt and McDougall, 2005a, 2005b; Zahra, 2005; Dimitratos and Jones, 2005). Even though this research has produced a lot of empirical findings, there is agreement that there is an ‘absence of a strong theoretical foundation’ (Thomas and Mueller, 2000) and, as a result, there is uncertainty and debate (Oviatt and McDougall, 2005a). There is also concern that the absence of a theoretical foundation means that the creation of a field based on strong conceptual models is lacking. This is critical for the creation of a cumulative research stream (Rialp et al., 2005).

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