What is it about?

Recent years have seen a questioning of the negative representation of informal sector entrepreneurship and an emergent view that it may offer significant benefits. This paper advances this rethinking by evaluating the relationship between business registration and future firm performance. Until now, the assumption has been that starting-up unregistered is linked to weaker firm performance.

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Why is it important?

Using World Bank Enterprise Survey data on 2494 formal enterprises in Turkey, and controlling for other determinants of firm performance as well as the endogeneity of the registration decision, the finding is that formal enterprises that started-up unregistered and spent longer unregistered have significantly higher subsequent annual sales and productivity growth rates compared with those registered from the outset. This is argued to be because in such weak institutional environments, the advantages of registering from the outset are outweighed by the benefits of deferring business registration and the low risks of detection and punishment.

Perspectives

The resultant implication is that there is a need to shift away from the conventional eradication approach based on the negative depiction of informal entrepreneurship as poorly performing, and towards a more facilitating approach that improves the benefits of business registration and tackles the systemic formal institutional deficiencies that lead entrepreneurs to decide to delay the registration of their ventures.

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Starting-up unregistered and firm performance in Turkey, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, November 2016, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s11365-016-0425-4.
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