Re-Imagining Rural Entrepreneurship: Towards a Multi-Paradigm Research Agenda

Dramatic changes over the last century has had significant effects on the face and function of rural entrepreneurship, which has made existing efforts to define, describe and predict important entrepreneurial phenomena in the domain difficult. This is problematic because — given the widening rural/urban gaps in wealth, education, technology, and access to healthcare in many places — entrepreneurship is generally touted as a critical competent in reversing and addressing many of the challenges facing rural areas. Despite the growing urgency to act and the deepening socio-cultural divides that inhibit much-needed action, mainstream entrepreneurship scholars have struggled to offer fresh insights on this important topic. In many respects, the governing frameworks, which often ignore the importance of venturing in a rural context, have proved to be overly simplistic, thereby limiting the ability of scholars to meaningfully address a number of challenging questions, such as: What is contemporary rural entrepreneurship? Is rural entrepreneurship the same as entrepreneurship in rural areas? Can successful urban models be effectively transplanted into rural locales? In response to these questions and others, we propose to provide a review of the existing literature on rural entrepreneurship and reformulate the theoretical foundation of rural entrepreneurship, paying particular attention to the rural context as both a condition as well as an embodied and lived experience of rural entrepreneurs, presenting a problematization of existing mainstream perspectives and paradigms of entrepreneurship. This effort, we propose, paves the way for a richer, more relevant research agenda to inform rural and urban entrepreneurship.