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Culture and entrepreneurial opportunity in high- and low-entrepreneurship rural communities: Challenging the discovery/creation divide

Michael William-Patrick Fortunato (Department of Sociology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)
Theodore Roberts Alter (Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy

ISSN: 1750-6204

Article publication date: 10 October 2016

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to underscore the role of culture in situating and embedding opportunistic action differently in high- and low-entrepreneurship communities in the USA. It challenges the idea that opportunity is either exclusively discovered or created – two themes commonly found in the literature.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach utilizes a multiple case study across one high- and one low-entrepreneurship community in rural areas in each of three states – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Maine. Community profiling, key informant interviews and survey analysis with entrepreneurs and local institutional actors are used to develop a greater understanding of how these individuals conceptualize and utilize opportunity in ways that lead to entrepreneurship development.

Findings

Quantitative and qualitative findings are presented supporting the idea that in these rural areas, discovery and creation fail to capture the nuances of how entrepreneurs think about opportunistic action.

Practical implications

This research offers insights for both researchers and practitioners about more effective ways to think about entrepreneurial opportunity and provides a glimpse as to how different community actors may hold different, but equally-valid, views on how opportunity arises – an idea with significant policy and practice implications.

Originality/value

The research contributes empirical support challenging the current discussion on entrepreneurial opportunity and advances the conversation as it pertains to rural entrepreneurship development using original research from the field.

Keywords

Citation

Fortunato, M.W.-P. and Alter, T.R. (2016), "Culture and entrepreneurial opportunity in high- and low-entrepreneurship rural communities: Challenging the discovery/creation divide", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 447-476. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEC-04-2015-0026

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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