Small Business Economics

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 249–262

The Distinctiveness of Entrepreneurship in Transition Economies

  • David Smallbone
  • Friederike Welter


This paper is concerned with the distinctiveness of entrepreneurship and small business development in countries that are at different stages of transformation to market based economies. Following a discussion of the potential relevance of selected conceptualisations of entrepreneurship to transition conditions, the authors present original empirical data referring to the characteristics of entrepreneurs and their businesses from countries at different stages of market reform. Distinctive features of entrepreneurial behaviour identified reflect the unstable and hostile nature of the external environment and the scarcity of key resources, particularly capital. In an unstable and weakly structured environment, informal networks often play a key role in helping entrepreneurs to mobilise resources, win orders and cope with the constraints imposed by highly bureaucratic structures and often unfriendly officials. Moreover, the social context inherited from the former socialist period appears to affect both the attitudes and behaviour of entrepreneurs and the attitudes of society at large towards entrepreneurship.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Smallbone
    • 1
  • Friederike Welter
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development ResearchMiddlesex University Business SchoolHendonU.K
  2. 2.Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI), HohenzollernstrEssenGermany

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