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Rural entrepreneurship or entrepreneurship in the rural – between place and space

Steffen Korsgaard (Department of Business Administration, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Sabine Müller (Department of Business Administration, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Hanne Wittorff Tanvig (Department of Forest and Landscape, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to investigate how rural entrepreneurship engages with place and space. It explores the concept of “rural” as a socio-spatial concept in rural entrepreneurship and illustrates the importance of distinguishing between ideal types of rural entrepreneurship.


The paper uses concepts from human geography to develop two ideal types of entrepreneurship in rural areas. Ideal types constitute powerful heuristics for research and are used here to review and link existing literature on rural entrepreneurship and rural development as well as to develop new research avenues.


Two ideal types are developed: first, entrepreneurship in the rural and second, rural entrepreneurship. The former represents entrepreneurial activities with limited embeddedness enacting a profit-oriented and mobile logic of space. The latter represents entrepreneurial activities that leverage local resources to re-connect place to space. While both types contribute to local development, the latter holds the potential for an optimized use of the resources in the rural area, and these ventures are unlikely to relocate even if economic rationality would suggest it.

Research limitations/implications

The conceptual distinction allows for engaging more deeply with the diversity of entrepreneurial activities in rural areas. It increases our understanding of localized entrepreneurial processes and their impact on local economic development.


This study contributes to the understanding of the localized processes of entrepreneurship and how these processes are enabled and constrained by the immediate context or “place”. The paper weaves space and place in order to show the importance of context for entrepreneurship, which responds to the recent calls for contextualizing entrepreneurship research and theories. In addition ideal types can be a useful device for further research and serve as a platform for developing rural policies.



This research was supported by a research grant from the Danish Business Authority and the European Social Fund.

The authors would like to thank the editor Richard Tunstall and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive and helpful suggestions that helped to improve the quality of the paper.


Korsgaard, S., Müller, S. and Tanvig, H.W. (2015), "Rural entrepreneurship or entrepreneurship in the rural – between place and space", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 5-26.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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