Working Paper
Entrepreneurship in Economic Development

What is the role of entrepreneurship in economic development? At a minimum the answer should be able to explain the role of entrepreneurs in the structural transformation of countries from low income, primary-sector based societies into high-income service and technology based societies. More broadly though, it should also be able to explain the role of entrepreneurs in the opposite pole of stagnating development (including conflict) and in high innovation-driven growth. Although economic development lacks a ‘general theory’ of entrepreneurship, which could encompass a variety of development experiences, much progress has been made in extending the understanding of entrepreneurship in the process of development. This paper surveys the progress with the purpose of distilling the outlines for a more general theory of entrepreneurship in economic development. Entrepreneurship in developing countries remains a relatively under-researched phenomenon, so by surveying the current state of research, and by discussing the role of entrepreneurship in dual economy models of structural transformation and growth, a secondary objective of this paper is to identify avenues for further research. Finally, the policy implications from the economic literature suggest that a case for government support exists, and that this should focus on the quantity, the quality, and the allocation of entrepreneurial ability. Many routinely adopted policies for entrepreneurship, such as provision of credit and education, are shown to have more subtle effects, not all of which are conducive to growth-enhancing entrepreneurship.