Exploring Culture and Entrepreneurship Nexus in Peacebuilding: Beyond Fragility of Institutions as Source of Conflict

Exploring Culture and Entrepreneurship Nexus in Peacebuilding: Beyond Fragility of Institutions as Source of Conflict

Essien Essien (University of Uyo, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2574-6.ch021
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The cradle of humanity holds viable and sustainable solutions toward living together and in peace. Conflict, restiveness, risk, and vulnerability, therefore, are not things that exists in many people, especially the developing economies, but what exists in their social and economic environments. Therefore, reducing conflict and violence by overcoming structural deficits that generate contexts of conflict, violence, and criminality means generating productive opportunities through entrepreneurship for young people to reduce social risks of everyday life. Relying on content analysis of existing literature and descriptive methodology, this study attempts an investigation of how conflict in the society can be addressed through entrepreneurship development for sustainable peace. Findings, however, reveal that peacebuilding activities could be linked to entrepreneurship development with the hope of reducing unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, religious intolerance, increasing self-reliance, managing diversity, ethnic differences, and a culture of peace.
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Scholarship is replete with the judgment that entrepreneurial activity has been around with us for as long as man existed and cultural factors affect entrepreneurial activity (Wennekers, 2006). This explains why Max Weber, through his thesis, outlined the relationship between the characteristics of culture (with special emphasis on religion) and entrepreneurship, which he represented as the spirit of capitalism, and was discovered to be an interesting topic in scholarship (Weber, 1948). Nevertheless, it is only in the last few decades, that Hofstede introduced his famous model on cultural dimension based on the impact of national culture on entrepreneurship, that this relationship was empirically studied (Hofstede, 2001). Consequently, since then many studies on the relationship between entrepreneurship and culture or cultural values have been using his model as the basis of their research. Hoftstede defines culture as “a collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another” (2001: 47). He considers culture as a collective phenomenon, formed by the social environment of individuals in a particular place. According to Hofstede, variations related with religion, politics, ethnicity, gender, nationality, social classes, and language posses the capacity to create cultural differences (2001). In this regard, the argument is that cultural values constitute a critical feature of culture and cultural distinctiveness. Hofstede’s research has successfully shown how national culture affects the environment essential for entrepreneurship across assortment of countries in the world (Hofstede & McCrae, 2004). However, by assuming that national culture is a ‘common component’ of a wider culture which contains both its global and sub-national constituents, his study ignores the differences among local cultural groups within a country. In fact, in a highly centralized country, cultural systems that exist locally still dominantly influence grassroots community’s way of life. In reality, local cultural attributes also serve as a non-formal standard entry requirement needed to be acquired by a person in order to be accepted as a community member. In other words, compared to Hofstede’s ‘common component’ of national culture, the dynamics of culture that exist locally have a greater impact towards a community member of a country (Zhao, Li, & Rauch, 2012). Moreover, the evolution of local cultures and their interactions with supporting national policies have also been a key determinant of success that encourages entrepreneurship activities locally. Hence, aspects contained in a locally cultural system along with all of its supporting attributes are more dominant in building a local environment that fosters entrepreneurship. Moreover, the relationship between culture and entrepreneurship does not only produce a one-way interaction. Although regarded as the elements orientating further actions, in reality culture itself is also the product of actions (Baker & Woessmann, 2007). Therefore, this condition places culture as a subject of both repulsive and attractive forces of change, which are typically wrapped in innovations and cultural inventions. Innovations as well as cultural inventions change community’s social structures and affect culture internally (Hayton et al, 2002). They produce changes within a community by altering social dynamics, which facilitate creative actions in promoting new cultural models. Subsequently, these social shifts will stimulate ideological modifications and other types of cultural changes. Besides, in order to survive, a culture always needs to be re-acceded and re-integrated under the consensus of the community where it belongs. This is where entrepreneurship, through its entrepreneurs who were previously shaped by culture, takes its critical role in driving cultural changes. Entrepreneurs act as a catalyst of change that imagines new solutions (Alsaaty, 2007). Also, as a true agent of creative destruction, they endogenously destroy old ways and replace it with new ones. Therefore, entrepreneurs possess the power in advancing those cultural changes, no matter how big the impact is. They are fully equipped with various new ideas, as well as the ability to convert those ideas into successful innovations and social inventions in order to alter inferior creation as a whole or a part. Eventually, through their creativity, entrepreneurs will not just create new products or even new business models, but also develop a new cultural system. All of those situations previously mentioned produce causalities that are indeed more complex, due to the unique position which both culture and entrepreneurship cling to in affecting each other. While it is highly affected by cultural factors existing locally within a nation, entrepreneurship through its entrepreneurs also acts as catalyst of cultural changes (Pihie, 2009). Regrettably though, most studies on entrepreneurship and culture have not integrated these complex causalities in their work which makes it difficult to appreciate the matrix. They relegate these complexities to the background by considering the relationship as simply a one-way interaction, treating questions, such as how cultural attributes affect entrepreneurship and how entrepreneurship through its entrepreneurs acts as the driver of cultural changes, as a separate subject of research. This study therefore, recognizes the likelihood that this condition will obviously enlarge the literature gap regarding the relational nature between cultural attributes and entrepreneurship that exist locally within societies, as well as how they mutually affect each other in their local settings.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-Employment: Self-employment is the state of working for oneself rather than an employer. Such a person does not work for a specific employer who pays him/her a consistent salary or wage. Self-employed individuals could be an independent contractor who earns income by contracting with a trade or business directly.

Cultural Values: Cultural values are the core principles and ideals upon which an entire community exists and protect and rely upon for existence and harmonious relationship. The concept is made up of several parts: customs, which involve traditions and rituals; values, which are beliefs; and culture, which is all of a group's guiding values.

Cultural Enterprise: Cultural enterprise involves the performance of certain activity prevalent in artistic and cultural content. This is so done in order to achieve an objective of social order, peace and harmonious relationship in “the community’s cultural growth.” The cultural enterprise, just like any other enterprise, needs adequate tangible and intangible assets that are an appropriate and serves as working capital to achieve its institutional mission.

Economic Growth: Economic growth is an increase in the capacity of an economy to produce goods and services, compared from one period of time to another. It can be measured in nominal or real terms, the latter of which is adjusted for inflation. There are three major factors that can drive economic growth of any society. They are accumulation of capital stock, increases in labor inputs, such as workers and/or hours put in for work, and technological advancement.

Risk-Taking: Risk taking signifies any conscious or non-conscious controlled behavior with a perceived uncertainty about its outcome, or about its possible benefits or costs for the physical, economic or social well-being of oneself or others. The concept of risk involves taking actions which might have unpleasant or undesirable results. Risk taking has been the concern of human beings from the earliest days of recorded history and most likely even before that. Specifically speaking, the concept of risk referred to here clearly describe the act of insuring oneself against possible loss, and the most accurate calculation of the costs and benefits involved. It is pertinent to note that different situations and perspectives lead to different definitions of risk taking.

Empowerment: The term empowerment describes a set of measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights. Empowerment as action refers both to the process of self-empowerment and to professional support of people, which enables them to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, and to recognize and use their resources.

Communal Conflict: Communal conflict is defined as a conflict between non-state groups that are organized along a shared communal identity. They are products of social relations. It involves threat or action of one party directed at a community’s rights, interests or privileges or of another party, because of differences over economic issues, power or authority, cultural values and beliefs.

Effective Entrepreneur: Effective entrepreneur indicates the practice of being a successful entrepreneur. It connotes more than just starting new ventures every other day. Effective entrepreneur means having the right attitude towards a business and having the determination and clench to achieve success. It presupposes that a successful entrepreneur will always have a strong sense of self-confidence and a spirited opinion about skills and abilities required for a successful business.

Mutualism: Mutualism is a concept that explains the relationship that exists and benefits two people, organisms, and/or groups. It signifies a doctrine in sociology where mutual aid is beneficial to society and the individual. A mutualistic relationship occurs when two persons, group of persons, and/or organisms of different species “work together,” for a common purpose each benefiting from the relationship. Here cultural mutualism connotes where two cultures converge to achieve one common goal such as the restoration of peace, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution.

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