BEYOND THE COMMERCIAL VERSUS SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP DICHOTOMY: A CASE STUDY OF INFORMAL ENTREPRENEURS
Vol. Volume 17 Number 3 September/2012
COLIN C WILLIAMS & SARA NADIN
Despite a widespread recognition in the mainstream entrepreneurship literature that many legitimate entrepreneurs do not pursue purely profit-driven commercial goals, the small but burgeoning literature on entrepreneurship in the informal economy has assumed entrepreneurs operating wholly or partially on an off-the-books basis are commercial rather than social entrepreneurs. To evaluate critically this assumption, evidence is reported from a survey involving face-to-face interviews with 70 informal entrepreneurs located in deprived and affluent urban and rural English localities. The finding is that informal entrepreneurs range from those pursuing purely commercial ends through to purely social entrepreneurs pursuing solely social logics, with the majority situated somewhere in-between combining both commercial and social objectives. The outcome is a call to recognize that not all informal entrepreneurs are purely commercial entrepreneurs and that the commercial versus social entrepreneurship dichotomy will need to be transcended if the multifarious goals underpinning informal entrepreneurship are to be better understood.
EInformal sector; underground economy; shadow economy; commercial entrepreneurship; social entrepreneurship; enterprise culture; enterprise development