Strategies of entrepreneurship : Understanding industrial entrepreneurship and structural change in northwest Tanzania

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: This study addresses the problem of entrepreneurial activity in an environment of institutional change. The focus is on industrial entrepreneurs in northwest Tanzania. Like many other African countries, Tanzania is today undergoing a process of structural transformation. Significant changes are introduced in the formal institutional framework. The aim of these changes is to create an "enabling environment" for enterprising activities, and thereby also to affect the informal institutional framework, and society as a whole. In this process, entrepreneurs are expected to play an important role as "agents of change". The author discusses if, and how, this expectation may be fulfilled.Focus is on the entrepreneurs' industrial venturing activities - on how they identify and obtain the resources needed, and how problems are dealt with along the way. Strategies for resource acquisition and for handling an uncertain business environment are analyzed, and set within a framework of both formal and informal institutional change. In the analysis of the entrepreneurs' strategies, the issue of "trust" becomes central. In interpreting this issue and other aspects of the entrepreneurial process, neo-institutionalist conceptions of social change are combined with sociological theory. The social embeddedness of the entrepreneurs' activities is stressed, and conflicts that arise from handling family support obligations while maintaining sound business practices are discussed. Finally, the study discusses the possible implications of the entrepreneurs' strategies for the transformation of Tanzania's economic and social life.

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