Twenty years of rural entrepreneurship: a bibliometric survey
Entrepreneurship, in general, and rural entrepreneurship, in particular, has become a dynamic field of research in the last two decades. It seems therefore timely to present a quantitative survey of the literature in this area, aimed at identifying the most important sub-topics, contributors and their geographical distribution, major outlets, main empirical methodologies employed, as well as the most frequently studied countries. Based on 181 articles published in journals indexed in Scopus (until March 2013), we found that within the entrepreneurship literature, ‘rural entrepreneurship’ has been largely overlooked and has gradually lost momentum. Rural entrepreneurship is an essentially ‘European’ concern, whose most prolific authors are affiliated in institutions located in the UK and Spain. The most important outlets for this topic are Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Businesses, and Journal of Rural Studies. The average quality of the research on rural entrepreneurship has risen, as reflected by the journals’ impact factor, implying that it has gained a measure of scientific visibility. More research on rural entrepreneurship is being published in economics and business-related journals, losing to some extent its initial multidisciplinary scope. In the field of rural entrepreneurship, ‘Organization-related characteristics’, ‘Policy measures’ and ‘Institutional frameworks and Governance’ have attracted considerable attention in recent years, being considered as ‘emergent’ topics of research. In contrast, ‘Theory building’ has not attracted much research over the period in analysis, which suggests that the theoretical body of rural entrepreneurship is still incipient, hindering the establishment of its boundaries and of a suitable research agenda. The absence of an axiomatic and theoretical corpus prevents the full use of causality and hypotheses testing methodologies and explains to some extent the predominance of more qualitative types of research. Empirical literature on rural entrepreneurship has mainly analyzed developed countries, most notably, the UK, USA, Spain, Finland and Greece. Given the potential rural entrepreneurship represents for less developed and underdeveloped countries, more research on the topic is an imperative.
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