What is it about?

Conventionally, street entrepreneurs were either seen as a residue from a premodern era that is gradually disappearing (modernisation theory), or an endeavour into which marginalised populations are driven out of necessity in the absence of alternative ways of securing a livelihood (structuralist theory). In recent years, however, participation in street entrepreneurship has been re-read either as a rational economic choice (neoliberal theory) or as conducted for cultural reasons (post-modern theory). The aim of this paper is to evaluate critically these competing explanations for participation in street entrepreneurship.

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Why is it important?

To do this, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 871 street entrepreneurs in the Indian city of Bangalore during 2010 concerning their reasons for participation in street entrepreneurship. The finding is that no one explanation suffices. Some 12 % explain their participation in street entrepreneurship as necessity-driven, 15 % as traditional ancestral activity, 56 % as a rational economic choice and 17 % as pursued for social or lifestyle reasons. The outcome is a call to combine these previously rival explanations in order to develop a richer and more nuanced theorisation of the multifarious motives for street entrepreneurship in emerging market economies.


Do street vendors in India work in this way purely out of necessity?

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Evaluating competing theories of street entrepreneurship: some lessons from a study of street vendors in Bangalore, India, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, August 2012, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s11365-012-0227-2.
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