What is it about?

When examining the motivations of entrepreneurs, it has become commonplace to represent them dichotomously as either necessity- or opportunity-driven. In recent years, an emergent literature has criticized this simplistic necessity/opportunity dichotomy by revealing not only how both necessity and opportunity are often co-present in entrepreneurs’ motives but also how their complex motives can shift over time. This paper furthers this emergent literature by unravelling how entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs’ motives are directly influenced by the socio-spatial context in which operate.

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Why is it important?

To evaluate the socio-spatial contingency of entrepreneurial motivations, a case study is here reported of the drivers underpinning entrepreneurial endeavour in English deprived urban neighbourhoods (DUNs). The results of face-to-face interviews with 459 participants followed up by a further 18 in-depth interviews, this study reveals that entrepreneurs’ motives in DUNs are complex, combining necessity and opportunity drivers, with the balance shifting over time in direct response to the changing fortunes of, and possibilities in, the locality in which they work and live, which has directly impacts on their perceptions of what is possible and feasible. This paper concludes by calling for greater recognition of the socio-spatial contingency of motivations followed by the implications for both theory and policy.


Evaluates how entrepreneurial motivations are socio-spatially contingent

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Evaluating the socio-spatial contingency of entrepreneurial motivations: A case study of English deprived urban neighbourhoods, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, September 2012, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/08985626.2012.710259.
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