Business Research

Does setting affect what it means to be an entrepreneur?

Alberta School of Business researcher finds:

  • In different settings, people think of entrepreneurship in different ways which can shape the opportunities they see and pursue.
  • In North America, for example, being an entrepreneur brings to mind personal wealth gain, status and the identification of innovative opportunities. 
  • In Ghana, being an entrepreneur means being a community safety net and mentor and signs of personal wealth may have negative implications.
  • These differences can help to explain whether aid programs aimed at alleviating poverty will be effective. 

Research abstract:
Innovative entrepreneurship is an essential but often missing outcome of poverty alleviation efforts. This qualitative study set in rural Ghana explores the occupational identity of entrepreneurs, the institutions that shape it in isolated “island networks”, and how it influences entrepreneurs' practices and decisions. We find that the institutional forces of “collectivism” and “fatalism” feature prominently. Being an entrepreneur in such settings means being a mentor, market link, and community safety net, and the types of opportunities entrepreneurs pursue are largely seen as predestined and inherited rather than individually chosen. As a result, the pursuit of innovative opportunities may be significantly limited.

The article, “The Opportunity Not Taken: The Occupational Identity of Entrepreneurs in Contexts of Poverty” by Angelique Slade Shantz is published in the Journal of Business Venturing.


Angelique Slade Shantz Angelique Slade Shantz focuses her research on the role of business in addressing grand challenges, predominantly occurring at the intersection of entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation. Her current research explores institutional, cultural and cognitive barriers to entrepreneurial activities and workplace motivation in the contexts of resource scarcity. She attended Arizona State University (BA), Duke University (MBA), and York University (PhD). She is currently an Assistant Professor of Strategic Management and Organization at the Alberta School of Business.