A Polanyian approach to understanding entrepreneurship in Liverpool



Nowak, V
(2018) A Polanyian approach to understanding entrepreneurship in Liverpool. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Abstract

This research applies Karl Polanyi’s theoretical framework to explain how entrepreneurship is constructed in the context of place by focusing on north Liverpool. Entrepreneurship research continues to be dominated by an economic tradition that presents a growth-focused, profit-seeking ‘entrepreneurial hero’. Although this has been addressed in approaches that emphasise processes and context, the underpinning thinking often remains rooted in economism. This is particularly problematic for low-income places like north Liverpool, where economic thinking results in market solutions for problems created by market failure. The experience in Liverpool illustrates that policy prescriptions to address social welfare and local economic transformation based on economistic analysis are not working. This research suggests a Polanyian approach to re-socialise entrepreneurship by considering interrelated instituted economic processes of market exchange, reciprocity, redistribution and householding. A two-stage qualitative approach sought to understand the broader context of entrepreneurship through in-depth interviews with stakeholders, followed by case-study research comprising ethnographic observation and in-depth interviews with two business support providers and their clients. As key influencers on business start-ups, these support organisations provided a lens through which to view the influences, strengths and weaknesses of the dominant heroic entrepreneurship narrative, and to understand the other instituted processes at play. Analysis revealed the contested nature of entrepreneurship in Liverpool: The mainstream market logic epitomised by the growth-focused entrepreneurial hero, coexisted and intertwined in reciprocal, redistribution and householding processes that were underpinned by supporting social institutions of market, community, state and family. The Polanyian framework applied, challenges mainstream approaches to offer a re-socialisation of entrepreneurship. Consideration of interrelating instituted economic processes offers an enhanced understanding of entrepreneurial context by drawing attention to underpinning structures that influence context creation; and democratise entrepreneurship by opening it up to diverse motivations and influences. Recognising that new business creation relies on markets, government, community and family, has implications for policy and practice. Revealing the level and nature of existing state support justifies its redirection to create inclusive local economic growth that values community businesses, social enterprises, small business and the self-employed. Offering scope for transformation in low-income places like north Liverpool.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: Fac of Humanities & Social Sci > School of Management
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2019 13:07
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2021 10:00
DOI: 10.17638/03046770
Supervisors:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3046770