A major objective of recent supranational and national policies has been the socio-economic equity and cohesion of all regions within the European Union (EU) and in the Irish state. Pezzini (2001) identifies that current policies reflect a shift in political thinking; policy makers now see sustainable development occurring through development strategies rather than fiscal ones. Rural entrepreneurship has been acknowledged in academic and government circles as a key driver in rural socio-economic development (Wortman, Jr., 1990; Irish Rural Development Programme 2007-2013; Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Rural Development Plan 2007-2013). Despite its recognized importance, rural entrepreneurship has attracted little research attention, resulting in extensive knowledge gaps (Wortman, Jr. 1990; Statopoulou et al., 2004). Emergent literature suggests that the utilization of Actors Network Theory and a qualitative methodology will provide insights into the entrepreneurial process and how the rural context and the entrepreneur‟s social embeddedness within the local community (identified as the major differentiators between rural and urban entrepreneurship) both inhibits and enhances the entrepreneurial process (Statopoulou et al., 2004; Jack and Anderson 2002). Based on the foregoing, the objective of this study is to substantially contribute to extant knowledge by determining those factors that inhibit and facilitate rural entrepreneurs. In order to achieve the research objectives, a multi-case study approach is utilised, involving two rural destinations. Dunhill Enterprise Centre (DEC) and Dunhill, Fenor, Boatstrand and Annestown (DFBA) communities, as case examples. Consistent with the findings of the European Commission (2003), this study indicates that demographic and psychological characteristics do impact on rural entrepreneurs. This research found that the characteristics most likely to impact on rural entrepreneurs were sex, age, and period of time spent in business in the rural community. Also included under the demographic umbrella were education, previous work experience and family influences. When investigating psychological characteristics, the study found that the characteristics that directly impacted on rural entrepreneurs were independence, need for achievement, locus of control, risk-taking and tolerance of ambiguity. The study also revealed the importance of rural community embeddedness, in the form of relational, structural and positional embeddedness, in addition to highlighting the importance of business networking. These findings have particular implications for practitioners and policy makers in an Irish entrepreneurial context.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2011|