This paper aims to highlight the possibility that the same cultural and/or institutional environment can differentially affect each of the two moments of entrepreneurship – opportunity identification and opportunity exploitation. It is possible that the cultural and institutional environment in a particular place may encourage opportunity identification, but discourage opportunity exploitation, or vice versa. Specifically, this paper argues that understanding entrepreneurship in Trinidad and Tobago requires that we focus on how Trinidadian culture and institutions differentially affect both moments of entrepreneurship.
To examine how Trinidad and Tobago’s culture and institutions affect entrepreneurial opportunity identification and exploitation in that country, the paper uses a qualitative approach. In total, 25 subjects agreed to interviews, conducted in July and August 2009 in Trinidad. The questions were geared at understanding attitudes toward work and entrepreneurship in Trinidad, and how politics, culture and ethnicity interacted with those attitudes. The paper also examined institutional indicators from the Economic Freedom of the World: 2013 Annual Report and the World Bank’s 2016 Doing Business Report.
The research identified features of the cultural and institutional environment in Trinidad and Tobago that help to explain why opportunity identification is relatively common among all ethnic groups there, but why opportunity exploitation appears relatively suppressed among African–Trinidadians. In particular, the research finds that the inheritance of British institutions, a post-colonial political culture, a post-colonial business culture and ethnically based social networks all have positive and negative influences on each moment of entrepreneurship.
Further research would involve an analysis of a wider set of both formal and informal entrepreneurial activities in Trinidad and Tobago, across industries and periods.
This paper has implications for understanding the complex nature of entrepreneurship, which many policymakers try to encourage, but which is shaped by deep cultural and historical factors, and also indirectly influenced by state policies and laws.
Ethnic patterns in entrepreneurship shape the way groups see themselves and others.
While authors writing about opportunity recognition/identification and opportunity exploitation have captured the important dimensions of entrepreneurship, they underestimate the possibility of a disconnect between entrepreneurial identification and exploitation. Focusing on instances where the disconnect exists allows us to move away from characterizations of cultures as progress-prone or progress-resistant, and instead allows us to focus on these gaps between identifying and exploiting entrepreneurship across cultures.
John, A. and Storr, V.H. (2018), "Kirznerian and Schumpeterian entrepreneurship in Trinidad and Tobago", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 12 No. 5, pp. 582-610. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEC-05-2018-0034Download as .RIS
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