Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Culture of Entrepreneurship

Chakraborty, Shankha and Thompson, Jon and Yehoue, Etienne (2014): The Culture of Entrepreneurship.

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Abstract

We study the cultural process through which a society inculcates an entrepreneurial spirit. People work for a guaranteed wage or operate a firm whose return depends on business expertise. The latter is culturally acquired, within the family or outside, and people may choose an occupation different from the one they were socialized into. We show that a cultural bias towards safer occupations from colonial and post-colonial policies leads to stagnation where entrepreneurs do not upgrade technology because of their proficiency with existing methods. An aggregate productivity shock can tip this economy towards growth where cultural inertia gives way to technological progress led by established businesses. A human capital shock where existing business expertise is less useful, in contrast, causes growth through the emergence of a new class of entrepreneurs. In either case culture ceases to be destiny. We relate the theory to historical and recent episodes.

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