Explaining nation-wide differences in entrepreneurial activity: a legitimacy perspective

  • Francisco Díez-MartínEmail author
  • Alicia Blanco-González
  • Camilo Prado-Román


The present study applies the lens of Institutional Theory to analyze the impact of a country’s entrepreneurial legitimacy on its entrepreneurial activity as well as on entrepreneurs’ access to financing. By creating a structural equation model of entrepreneurship in innovation-driven countries, the authors show that countries with greater entrepreneurial legitimacy have more entrepreneurial activity. The model was tested over a 5-year period, from 2009 to 2013. Results suggest that innovation-driven countries with more entrepreneurial legitimacy obtain greater rates of entrepreneurial activity. Further distinguishing among legitimacy types, cognitive legitimacy is shown to exert a stronger influence than regulative or normative legitimacy. The model also confirms a positive relationship between a country’s entrepreneurial legitimacy and access to financing. This occurs principally through regulative legitimacy. This study enlarges our knowledge of the existing differences in entrepreneurial activity among countries. It contributes to the literature on the country-level determinants of entrepreneurship, such as institutional conditions or financial access.


Legitimacy Entrepreneurship Entrepreneurial activity Cross-national Institutional theory Financial access 



The author would like to thank Professor Luis Tomás Díez de Castro for his valuable comments and suggestions to improve the paper and the participants of the research seminar at the Fundación Camilo Prado on 24th April 2014.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Business Economics DepartmentRey Juan Carlos UniversityMadridSpain

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