What is it about?

It is now recognized that many entrepreneurs operate wholly or partially in the informal economy. Harnessing this hidden enterprise culture by facilitating its formalization is therefore a potentially effective and innovative means of promoting economic development and growth. To start evaluating how this might be achieved, the aim of this paper is to understand entrepreneurs’ motives for operating in the informal economy so as to identify the public policy interventions required to facilitate the formalization of this hidden enterprise culture.

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Why is it important?

Reporting a survey of 51 nascent entrepreneurs in North Nottinghamshire, of which 43 were operating in the informal economy, the finding is that entrepreneurs’ rationales for working informally differ according to both whether they operate wholly in the informal economy or have registered enterprises but trade partially off-the-books, as well as whether they view themselves as on a journey towards formalization or not. Different policy measures are therefore required to tackle each type of informal entrepreneurship.


A call is made for a more nuanced and bespoke policy approach for tackling the different kinds of informal entrepreneurship that comprise the hidden enterprise culture.

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Tackling the hidden enterprise culture: Government policies to support the formalization of informal entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, December 2012, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/08985626.2012.742325.
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