Tackling entrepreneurship in the informal economy: evaluating the policy options

Colin C. Williams (School of Management, University of Sheffield, Sheffield)
Sara J. Nadin (School of Management, University of Sheffield, Sheffield)

Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy

ISSN: 2045-2101

Publication date: 5 October 2012



Although there is emerging an understanding that many entrepreneurs conduct some or all of their transactions off‐the‐books, there has so far been little attempt to consider what can and should be done about entrepreneurship in the informal economy. The purpose of this paper is to bridge this gap.


Following a review of what is known about the prevalence and nature of informal entrepreneurship, this paper evaluates what can and should be done about informal entrepreneurs by analyzing the various policy options and their implications.


Evaluating the possible policy approaches of doing nothing, eradication, de‐regulation and facilitating formalisation, the finding is that doing nothing leaves intact the existing negative impacts on formal and informal businesses, customers and governments, whilst eradicating informal entrepreneurship results in governments stamping out precisely the entrepreneurship and enterprise culture that they wish to nurture, and de‐regulation results in a levelling down rather than up of working conditions. Only facilitating the formalisation of informal entrepreneurship is found to be a viable policy approach. How this might be achieved is then considered.

Research limitations/implications

More research is required on the hurdles informal entrepreneurs witness when seeking to legitimize their business ventures in different populations before it can be known whether specific policy measures to facilitate formalisation are appropriate.

Practical implications

This paper evaluates various public policy options for tackling informal entrepreneurship and their impacts.


This is one of the first evaluations of the policy options available for tackling informal entrepreneurship.



Williams, C. and Nadin, S. (2012), "Tackling entrepreneurship in the informal economy: evaluating the policy options", Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 111-124. https://doi.org/10.1108/20452101211261408

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.