The Hidden Enterprise Culture
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The Hidden Enterprise Culture

Entrepreneurship in the Underground Economy

Colin C. Williams

Portraying how entrepreneurs often start out conducting some or all of their trade on an ‘off-the-books’ basis and how many continue to do so once they become established, this book provides the first detailed account of the vast and ubiquitous hidden enterprise culture existing in the interstices of western economies. Until now, the role of the underground economy in enterprise creation, entrepreneurship and small business development has been largely ignored despite its widespread prevalence and importance.
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Chapter 9: The Enabling Option

Colin C. Williams


INTRODUCTION Having reviewed the continuities and changes in thought on the underground economy, and elucidated how a more positive representation of the underground economy as a hidden enterprise culture has begun to emerge in western economies, it has been displayed in the last two chapters that neither a deterrence nor laissez-faire approach allows the potentially positive attributes of this hidden enterprise culture to be retained while dealing with its more negative impacts. For this to occur, this chapter will argue that an enabling approach is required that treats such enterprise and entrepreneurship as an asset but only if harnessed and transferred into the legitimate realm. Here, therefore, the recognition of a hidden enterprise culture is not seen to provide a rationale for deregulating the formal economy (that is, turning formal employment into unregulated underground enterprise). Rather, the contention is that recognizing the underground economy as a breeding ground and platform for entrepreneurship and enterprise creation means that policies need to be pursued to legitimize such endeavour and move it into the formal sphere. To introduce this policy option of harnessing enterprise and entrepreneurship in the underground economy, first of all, this chapter will review the arguments so far made regarding the nature of the underground economy and following this, the implications of pursuing the various policy options will be recapped so as to make the case for the third and final option of harnessing underground entrepreneurship by bringing it into the legitimate realm. How this might start to be implemented...

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