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Failed entrepreneurship in a heterotopia: the story of Villa Ahumada

Oscar Javier Montiel Mendez (Management Sciences Department, Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico)
R. Duncan M. Pelly (Johnson School of Business, McMurry University, Abilene, Texas, USA)

Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2053-4604

Article publication date: 7 June 2021




The heterotopia is frequently portrayed as a third space in organization studies, characterized by its flexibility and receptivity to innovation. Rural entrepreneurship, embodied in the heterotopic space of community-based enterprises (CBEs), is a key concept in emerging economies. Understanding the CBE’s economic and social dynamics is vital for the genesis of entrepreneurship in these spaces, for regional development and for national economies. This paper aims to deep dive into the group dynamics of Villa Ahumada (VA), a well-known subspace located close to the Mexico–USA border, which, despite its market potential, has not been able to support the collectivization required of a CBE.


Under a case study design, four deep interviews were conducted, which explore the stories of entrepreneurship in VA and analyze the rich narrative accounts of the participants. Narratives offer opportunities for extending the current conceptualizations of entrepreneurship and its processes.


This paper opens a conversation about the negative aspects of heterotopias, especially with regards to entrepreneurship. Much literature has been devoted to the power of rural communities and peasant villages as fertile places for entrepreneurship. They emphasize the role of entrepreneurial culture and governmental support as almost guarantors of entrepreneurial success. This narrative provides one reason for entrepreneurial failure: the deviant heterotopia. Despite government policy that favored collective entrepreneurial efforts, and despite a vibrant underground entrepreneurship culture combined with a valuable brand, entrepreneurship in VA was dead before it started.


Rural entrepreneurship should be a multidimensional phenomenon focusing upon entrepreneurship, context, group dynamics and social capital; but it has not been interpreted from the perspective of a heterotopia or paratopia.



Montiel Mendez, O.J. and Pelly, R.D.M. (2021), "Failed entrepreneurship in a heterotopia: the story of Villa Ahumada", Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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