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The Divide between Subsistence and Transformational Entrepreneurship

In: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 10

  • Antoinette Schoar

This paper argues that it is crucially important to differentiate between two very distinct sets of entrepreneurs: subsistence and transformational entrepreneurs. Recent evidence suggests that people engaging in these two types of entrepreneurship are not only very distinct in nature but that only a negligible fraction of them transition from subsistence to transformational entrepreneurship. These individuals vary in their economic objectives, their skills, and their role in the economy. Most important, they seem to respond very differently to policy changes and economic cycles. Yet most development policies aimed at fostering entrepreneurship focus on subsistence entrepreneurship in the hope of creating transformational entrepreneurs. I argue that unless we understand the differences between those two types of entrepreneurs more clearly, many policy interventions may have unintended consequences and may even have an adverse impact on the economy.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Josh Lerner & Scott Stern, 2010. "Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 10," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lern09-1.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11765.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11765
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    1. Ana María Herrera & Eduardo Lora, 2005. "Why So Small? Explaining the Size of Firms in Latin America," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(7), pages 1005-1028, 07.
    2. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Joulfaian, David & Rosen, Harvey S, 1994. "Sticking It Out: Entrepreneurial Survival and Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(1), pages 53-75, February.
    3. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2008. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1329-1372.
    4. Silvia Ardagna & Annamaria Lusardi, 2010. "Explaining International Differences in Entrepreneurship: The Role of Individual Characteristics and Regulatory Constraints," NBER Chapters, in: International Differences in Entrepreneurship, pages 17-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Ximena Peña Parga & Camilo Mondragón-Vélez, 2008. "Business Ownership and Self-Employment in Developing Economies: The Colombian Case," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 004672, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    6. Eric J. Bartelsman & John Haltiwanger & Stefano Scarpetta, 2004. "Microeconomic Evidence of Creative Destruction in Industrial and Developing Countries," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-114/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. Barton H. Hamilton, 2000. "Does Entrepreneurship Pay? An Empirical Analysis of the Returns to Self-Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 604-631, June.
    8. Erik Hurst & Annamaria Lusardi, 2004. "Liquidity Constraints, Household Wealth, and Entrepreneurship," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 319-347, April.
    9. Rajkamal Iyer & Antoinette Schoar, 2010. "Are there Cultural Determinants of Entrepreneurship?," NBER Chapters, in: International Differences in Entrepreneurship, pages 209-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2008. "Who are the microenterprise owners ? Evidence from Sri Lanka on Tokman v. de Soto," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4635, The World Bank.
    11. Blanchflower, D.G. & Oswald, A., 1991. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Economics Series Working Papers 99125, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    12. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar, 2010. "International Differences in Entrepreneurship," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lern08-2.
    13. Takatoshi Ito & Andrew K. Rose, 2009. "Financial Sector Development in the Pacific Rim, East Asia Seminar on Economics, Volume 18," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ito_07-2.
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