The Impact of Communication Language on Entrepreneurship in Cameroon

The Impact of Communication Language on Entrepreneurship in Cameroon

Joël Stephan Tagne
DOI: 10.4018/IJSECSR.2020070102
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The objective of this study was to analyze the effects of linguistic diversity on entrepreneurship in Cameroon. More specifically, it was a question of analysing the effects of linguistic diversity first on entrepreneurial intention, then on business creation, and finally on the sustainability of the businesses created. To achieve these objectives, the authors used data from a survey of 504 individuals in the cities of Douala and Yaoundé conducted by the Laboratory of Research in Fundamental and Applied Economics (LAREFA) of the University of Dschang and using the binary probit, recursive bivariate probit, and tobit models; it was found that 1) bilingual individuals have a lower entrepreneurial intention than their monolingual counterparts; however, the fact that the individual masters several languages facilitates the transition from intention to action; 2) if linguistic diversity is varied from zero to low or medium level, then the duration of the enterprise will increase by 25 months.
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Entrepreneurship has long been considered as an essential element of economic development (Roundy & Asllani, 2019). However, in addition to creating new jobs, entrepreneurs put new products and services, new technologies or new production processes onto the market and speedup structural change (Fritsch et al., 2015).

Cantillon (1755) was the first author to introduce this concept in economic literature. Most recently, through the occupational choice theory, Lucas (1978) upholds that individuals differ in terms of innate entrepreneurial ability, while Kihlstrom and Laffont (1979) based their model on the first idea of Knight (1921) that economic agents differ in their level of risk aversion, with the least risk-averse individuals becoming entrepreneurs.

In the Cameroonian context, the state has undertaken several initiatives to improve on the business climate. These initiatives include the creation of the Business Creation Formality Centre, the creation of the Bank for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, the creation of the Agricultural Bank and many others. All these measures have contributed to the change in the position of the state from an entrepreneurial state to one that now encourages entrepreneurial activity. Thus, in several Doing Business reports published by the World Bank, Cameroon has made significant progress. If in 2016 Cameroon was ranked 172 in the world, it gained a few points in 2017, 2018 and 2019 to occupy 166th, 163rd and 166th place respectively. Similarly, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) data for Cameroon and for the year 2016, the level of entrepreneurial intentions was 34.38%, the entrepreneurial activity rate 27.56%. Also for the same year, the level of entrepreneurship established was 15.20% and the innovation rate of 15.90%.

In view of these statistics, Cameroon is considered as a giant in emerging entrepreneurship but, is a dwarf in the development of ambitious entrepreneurship. Thus, efforts are being made to know, understand and guide the development of entrepreneurship in Cameroon, but these efforts remain insufficient. It is therefore still interesting to understand what could determine entrepreneurship in Cameroon.

The factors that can influence entrepreneurial activity are most often classified into two main categories, on the one hand we have push factors and on the other hand we have pull factors (Vossenberg, 2013). The push factors, also known as structural factors are those associated with low income, difficult working conditions, divorce, job loss, unemployment conditions, economic recession while the pull factors, also referred to as proactive factors are those linked to the needs for independence and personal success, financial gains, personal development, social status and power (Kobeissi, 2010). Presented as both a structural and a proactive factor, language has been considered a major determinant of entrepreneurship (Kouzes & Posner, 1987; Shehu & Shittu, 2015).

Language is one of the most important elements of social capital (Fearon & Laitin, 2003). It is defined as the means by which individuals communicate with each other (Lipman, 2002). Language skills are an essential tool for communication, for a fundamental understanding of how others think and express themselves. It therefore significantly affects the interactions between individuals (Lipman, 2002). However, language does not only help to communicate, it is also linked to an individual's identity (Lauring, 2008; Ramlan et al., 2018). In this case, it can therefore guide the decision-making in an individual.

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