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“Method in their madness”: understanding the behaviour of VSE owner‐managers

André Cyr (INRPME, Université du Québec à Trois‐Rivières, Trois‐Rivières, Canada)
Olivier Meier (Laboratoire IRG, Université Paris Est, Lieusaint, France)
Jean‐Claude Pacitto (Laboratoires: IRG/INRPME, Université Paris Est, Créteil, France)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 17 May 2011




The purpose of this paper is to understand the sound practical reasons underlying the behaviour of very small enterprise (VSE) owner‐managers with respect to their perceived resistance to the dominant entrepreneurial and managerial models in areas such as management methods, marketing or internationalisation.


The current literature on VSE managers was reviewed in the light of Raymond Boudon's general theory of rationality. Starting from the premise that in science, the simplest explanation tends to be the best, the paper highlights the practical reasons why VSE owner‐managers behave the way they do.


While there may be cultural or personality‐based reasons why VSE owner‐managers often appear to reject the traditional entrepreneurial model, these are not the sole or even the main explanation. In most cases, the behaviour in question can be explained much more simply by practical, down‐to‐earth reasons. From the actor's point of view, his behaviour is always rational.

Research limitations/implications

This new model of the behaviour of VSE owner‐managers has not been empirically tested.


The paper presents a novel vision of the behaviour of VSE owner‐managers, based on the practical reasons underlying their actions, that goes beyond the existing typologies such as the “Traditional‐vs‐Opportunistic” entrepreneur.



Cyr, A., Meier, O. and Pacitto, J. (2011), "“Method in their madness”: understanding the behaviour of VSE owner‐managers", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 331-351.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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