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Barefoot entrepreneurs

Imas, J. Miguel and Wilson, Nick and Weston, Alia (2012) Barefoot entrepreneurs. Organization, 19 (5). pp. 563-585. ISSN 1350-5084

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This paper makes a contribution to critical entrepreneurship studies through exploring 'barefoot’ entrepreneur[ing], i.e., the entrepreneurial practices and narratives of individuals who live primarily in marginal, poor and excluded places and contexts. Drawing on Max-Neef’s barefoot economics and a methodology based on the authoring and sharing of microstorias, the article asks how agents in deprived areas of Chile, Argentina, Zimbabwe and Ghana undertake entrepreneur[ing] from the margins or ‘periphery’. The paper challenges us to seek better explanations for how these individuals apply their entrepreneurial practices, discourses, (social) creativity, and novel organisational skills to maintain communal, organisational, familial and personal wellbeing. We conclude that their imaginary, their narratives, and their overcoming of very real challenges as we encounter them through these microstorias, question the predominant conceptualisation of entrepreneurship. We are emboldened to think again about ‘who is the entrepreneur?’ (Gartner, 1988) and what really are the principles and values that should be associated with the concept, the organisation, and the identities of agents involved.