Culture and Entrepreneurship: different concepts yet inseparable and interdependent

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Culture and Entrepreneurship: different concepts yet inseparable and interdependent

When people think about culture the first couple of things that probably come to their mind are traditions, local customs and cultural festivals. Yet entrepreneurship and its manifestation as entrepreneurial activity are as much inherent and affected by culture as any custom or tradition. In turn, entrepreneurial culture can affect how people go about doing their everyday business. One can be entrepreneurial in everything he or she does in life. Being entrepreneurial is a state of mind and being enterprising is another way of describing a state of mind of somebody who is alert, mindful, and who is continuously seeking opportunities and innovative solutions. That is a culture that any society would benefit from and it should be the goal of every country or region to create and support such cultural attitudes. Evidence suggest otherwise.
"The disaggregated analysis also indicates how unreliable predictions for the performance of regional self-employment are likely to be under the usual assumption of regional homogeneity."

Andrew Burke, Felix Fitzroy & Michael Nolan

An interesting finding from the UK is that there is a cultural divide between South and North when it comes to entrepreneurial attitudes. The divide is particularly evident when contrasting female and male attitudes. More specifically, men tend to follow similar group norms regardless of location, something like “pack behaviour”, while women have distinct and more individual characteristics in both North and South. Concepts such as work-family conflict or work-life balance might be important to some women, while unimportant to others. Family and children can be the life goals of a woman or it might not, and marriage seems increasingly insignificant for women career choices. The fact is that it is easier to group male behaviour than it is for females.
"Less buoyant regions can have higher levels of education among the self-employed than even regions with more highly educated work-forces"

Andrew Burke, Felix Fitzroy & Michael Nolan

Education offers some interesting insight when the data are disaggregated at a regional level, where achievement level appears to have contrasting results. A first degree has a negative effect in starting your own business in the South, while it has no effect in the North. A first degree also has a negative effect in the creation of jobs in the South, while a positive effect in the North. One could erroneously assume that getting a first degree is not a good idea for starting a business if not accounting for local culture. In a number of regions there is an inherent culture of “being your own boss” and people seek to start their own business at the first opportunity. What is clear is that aggregating such measurements can lead to misleading conclusions.

Many business colleges and universities function as the promoter of entrepreneurial culture for their nearby area, but business teaching can take the form of starting a business or the form of running a business (even if it is not your own). Both fall under the concept of the entrepreneur, but without the ‘start-up’ part the only utility for the ‘running a business’ part is as an executive employee for somebody’s else business. Though both are necessary for any business success, it is the former that needs to be embedded into culture more than the latter.
"The skills necessary to ensure the growth and development of an enterprise may well be different from those required to conceive and launch a business... the longer an entrepreneur remains in business the greater is the tendency for him (her) to resemble an administrative entrepreneur"

Stanley Cromie & Sandra Johns

Government schemes also play a role in advancing entrepreneurship, but the success of such schemes is ambiguous at least. Cultural regional difference can significantly affect such schemes and determine their success or failure. The lack of understanding of such dynamics has had an impact on previous attempts to promote entrepreneurship and stimulate growth via business creation. Often the need for personal achievement and "being your own boss" which are typically encountered among entrepreneurs can act against them when, while in need for help they are reluctant to accept advice. Understanding entrepreneurial attitudes is key to the succes of a scheme.

Different regions seem to respond differently to government policy plans to promote entrepreneurship and the evidence suggests a divide between North and South, as well as, differences among the regions that form the United Kingdom. As such local initiatives might better understand the distinct cultures, and be able to better form a plan of action to support current entrepreneurs and the promotion of entrepreneurship. These are likely to be two of the most fundamental ingredients to create an entrepreneurial culture.
“The profusion of support initiatives over the last 20 years has led to a very chaotic pattern of support for the small business in the UK"

James Curran & Robert Blackburn

Academic research is also a form of support for entrepreneurship and the promotion of an entrepreneurial culture. But no matter how much evidence is uncovered and analysed by researchers, it is of little use if politicians and public administrators are not willing to listen, either because they do not understand the importance of it, or because it does not serve their interests at the time. Hence, the vicious cycle of wasteful time-and-money policies keeps on.
“Overall, policymakers largely remain uninformed consumers of research and few SME policies are based on best available knowledge. The results have, arguably, been poor policy, wasted public resources, and a less effective economy"

James Curran & David Storey


Burke, A.E., Fitzroy, F.R. and Nolan, M.A., 2009. Is there a North–South divide in self-employment in England?. Regional Studies, 43(4), pp.529-544.

Cromie, S. and Johns, S., 1983. Irish entrepreneurs: Some personal characteristics. Journal of occupational behaviour, 4(4), pp.317-324.

Curran, J. and Blackburn, R.A., 2000. Panacea or white elephant? A critical examination of the proposed new small business service and response to the DTI consultancy paper. Regional Studies, 34(2), pp.181-189.

Curran, J. and Storey, D.J., 2002. Small business policy in the United Kingdom: the inheritance of the Small Business Service and implications for its future effectiveness. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 20(2), pp.163-177.

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