Evaluating Competing Theories of Street Entrepreneurship: Some Lessons from a Study of Street Vendors in Bangalore, India
International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Vol. 8, No. 4, 2012, pp. 391-409.
21 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2012
Conventionally, street entrepreneurs were either seen as a residue from a premodern era that is gradually disappearing (modernisation theory), or an endeavour into which marginalised populations are driven out of necessity in the absence of alternative ways of securing a livelihood (structuralist theory). In recent years, however, participation in street entrepreneurship has been re-read either as a rational economic choice (neoliberal theory) or as conducted for cultural reasons (post-modern theory). The aimof this paper is to evaluate critically these competing explanations for participation in street entrepreneurship. To do this, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 871 street entrepreneurs in the Indian city of Bangalore during 2010 concerning their reasons for participation in street entrepreneurship. The finding is that no one explanation suffices. Some 12% explain their participation in street entrepreneurship as necessity-driven, 15% as traditional ancestral activity, 56% as a rational economic choice and 17% as pursued for social or lifestyle reasons. The outcome is a call to combine these previously rival explanations in order to develop a richer and more nuanced theorisation of the multifarious motives for street entrepreneurship in emerging market economies.
Keywords: Street hawking, Street vendors, Entrepreneurship, Enterprise development, Informal economy, Economic development, Developing economies, India
JEL Classification: H26, J46, K42, O17
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation