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Responsibility to Place in Rural Family Business

Karen Foster (Dalhousie University)

Entrepreneurial Place Leadership: Negotiating the Entrepreneurial Landscape

ISBN: 978-1-80071-029-0, eISBN: 978-1-80071-028-3

Publication date: 21 July 2022


This chapter brings the recent sociology of entrepreneurship, sociologies and geographies of responsibility, and critical reflections on place and space together to ask why entrepreneurs show leadership in a place, and where they might want to lead it. Drawing on a set of qualitative interviews conducted from 2018 to 2020 with small business operators in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, the chapter explores how interviewees frame their business ideas, decisions, practices and aspirations not (just) in terms of conventional business objectives like profit or market share, but in terms of something I term responsibility to place. Responsibility to place emerges through the interviews as a feeling that one’s business should make a positive impact on place – inclusive of its people, environment, culture, history, and future. This feeling exists in tension with the objectives of Nova Scotia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem managers, as is seen in the discrepancies between interviewees’ narratives and the discourses propagated by the province’s economic development agencies, focused as they are on export-led growth. The findings from this sample indicate that understanding the “geographies of responsibility” (Massey, 2004) in entrepreneurs’ narratives is critical to a fuller appreciation of entrepreneurial Place leadership.



Foster, K. (2022), "Responsibility to Place in Rural Family Business", Newbery, R., Baranchenko, Y. and Bell, C. (Ed.) Entrepreneurial Place Leadership: Negotiating the Entrepreneurial Landscape (Contemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research, Vol. 15), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 11-27.



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