20 July 2017 | Report

Entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur: A literature review


The report considers the evolution of entrepreneurship as a field of study from its economic origins in the 1930s, through to more fragmented contemporary approaches that consider entrepreneurship through the lenses of strategic management, social psychology, and small business venturing and finance. The report also explores the specific cases of entrepreneurship in developing countries, as well as women’s entrepreneurship.


The report finds that entrepreneurs are generally considered to have certain key characteristics that allow them to act as change agents in economic markets, making novel contributions that have far-reaching impacts. While entrepreneurs have the necessary characteristics to drive this change, they do not always have the necessary financial resources to achieve it, therefore access to credit is a key requirement for entrepreneurship to occur.

The report also offers a distinction between the entrepreneur as an individual and the practice of entrepreneurship, with the latter involving three processes: the discovery of opportunities, the evaluation of these opportunities, and the exploitation of selected opportunities. From this insight, the report presents a model for understanding entrepreneurship that examines both the nature of entrepreneurs, as well as the nature of the environment where opportunities for entrepreneurship reside.

The report then applies this model to understanding women’s entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia, and examines both the specific nature of emerging economies as the entrepreneurial environment, as well as the specific nature of women as entrepreneurs. While most research on entrepreneurship focuses on developed economies and presumes men and women entrepreneurs to be the same, more recent research has identified key differences on both these fronts.

For example, entrepreneurship in emerging economies is affected by the level of economic development, the quality of institutions, the size of the market, levels of infrastructure, regulatory and policy environment, as well as social and cultural norms.

In terms of gender influences, entrepreneurship is generally associated with male characteristics and seen as a male-oriented activity, thus perpetuating gender stereotypes that may inhibit entrepreneurial participation in women. Women entrepreneurs are found to differ in how they finance their projects, the role that families play in the entrepreneurial process, and the motivations behind engaging in entrepreneurship, with the report finding that many women engage in business to pursue goals other than economic gain.




  • Beginnings
  • A fragmented field
  • A model for understanding entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur
  • What of entrepreneurship in emerging economies?
  • What of gender and entrepreneurship?

Download Resources Here

View other Resources