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Researching rural enterprise.

McElwee, Gerard; Smith, Robert


Gerard McElwee

Robert Smith


Alain Fayolle


This chapter is concerned with the topic of researching rural enterprise. As a subset of the literature of entrepreneurship, rural entrepreneurship and in particular rural enterprise is an emerging area of study. Bryant (1989) makes an important point when he argues that the entrepreneur (and the entrepreneurial activity of other people) in the rural environment is crucial in sustaining the vitality of rural areas. Entrepreneurship in rural areas is influenced by the evolution of rural territories expressed by demographic, economic, cultural, infrastructure changes, as reflected for example by a continual decline of new entrants into farming, and population movements into or out of rural places. This distinction between entrepreneurship and enterprise is of importance because, as we have shown elsewhere (McElwee and Smith, 2011), not all examples of enterprising behaviour actually constitute entrepreneurship per se. At a policy level, there is broad consensus that enterprise generates economic growth and vitality within an economy, and is fundamental to coping with and responding to broader changes in the organization and dynamics of economic activity and interaction (McElwee and Smith, 2011). Although regional and national economies consist of urban and rural components, much of the literature on entrepreneurship has an urban-centric focus which necessitates asking whether rural enterprise is a distinctive category of entrepreneurship in its own right.


MCELWEE, G. and SMITH, R. 2014. Researching rural enterprise. In Fayolle, A. (ed.) Handbook of research on entrepreneurship: what we know and what we need to know. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar [online], chapter 14, pages 307-334. Available from:

Online Publication Date May 30, 2014
Publication Date Dec 31, 2014
Deposit Date Nov 10, 2016
Publicly Available Date Nov 10, 2016
Publisher Edward Elgar Publishing
Pages 307-334
Book Title Handbook of research on entrepreneurship: what we know and what we need to know
Chapter Number Chapter 14
ISBN 9780857936912
Keywords Rural enterprise; Rural entrepreneurship; Rural areas; Entrepreneurship; Enterprise; Economic growth
Public URL


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