Culture and Entrepreneurship

My main research focus in on the intersection of culture and entrepreneurship. My most important question is: how do regional business cultures affect the local entrepreneurship process? I am interested in understanding how these cultures initially form and how they change over time. While this is a fun question to ask from a theoretical angle, it has important implications for regional policies and firm strategies. In a world where everyone is trying to build their own Silicon Valley, we need to think carefully about how successful policies are embedded in the particular cultural contexts they developed within.

To study these complex questions, my dissertation research examined the development of entrepreneurial cultures in three of Canada’s most entrepreneurial cities: Waterloo, Ottawa, and Calgary. Through more than 100 interviews with technology entrepreneurs, investors, and economic development officials, I delved into the characteristics of the regional cultures and how they actually influenced the on-the-ground practices of the region’s tech entrepreneurs.

Papers and Presentations

Culture has emerged as an important concept within the entrepreneurship literature to help explain differences in the nature of the entrepreneurship process observed between regions, industries and socio-cultural groups. Despite voluminous research on the topic, theories about how culture affects the entrepreneurship process remain underdeveloped. Without a framework to connect culture with everyday entrepreneurial practices and strategies, it is difficult to critically compare the role of culture between multiple contexts. Such a framework is necessary when examining the influence of local cultures on entrepreneurship, given the diverse ways they can influence economic activities. This paper introduces a Bourdieuian perspective on entrepreneurial culture that can be used to explain how particular entrepreneurial cultures emerge within regions, influence the local entrepreneurship process and evolve in the face of internal and external developments. Building on existing work on Bourdieu and entrepreneurship, this paper argues that entrepreneurship research must carefully consider how the concept of culture is used if it is to be a useful factor in explaining the heterogeneous geography of entrepreneurship we observe in the modern economy.

 

  • The Geography of Canadian Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment (2012). The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business. 15(3) 340-361.

    The regional variation of entrepreneurship and self-employment within and across nations has been carefully studied over the past 20 years. A multitude of papers covering more than a dozen countries have examined what economic and social factors drive local entrepreneurship. This paper both adds to this literature by examining the sources of regional variation of self-employment in Canada as well as critiques it by discussing the challenge of applying findings from one country to others. Through a meta-analysis of 34 previous studies of regional entrepreneurial variation, several common factors are identified and then examined in a Canadian context. Using data from the 2006 Census of Canada, the paper uses OLS regression to test the role of economic, demographic, and social factors on non-agricultural self-employment in Canadian census metropolitan areas. Population growth, migration, unemployment, firm size and structure all play a significant role in rates of self-employment in Canada.

  •  Regional Cultural Contexts and Entrepreneurial Intentions: A Bourdieuian Approach (Presented at the 2011 Babson Entrepreneurship Research Conference & 2011 Association of American Geographers Conference)