Urban Entrepreneurship Business Resource Materials

Entrepreneurship Law Editorial Team


Richard D. Bingham & Robert Mier, Dilemmas of Urban Economic Development: Issues in Theory and Practice (1997).

Abstract (from Amazon Product Description): Assessing state-of-the-art urban economic development, this book addresses such pertinent issues as the importance of `quality of life' in location decisions, and whether industry targeting is a viable economic development strategy. Each chapter is followed by commentaries - one written by an academic addressing research methodology, the other by a practitioner addressing both the question and the evidence. Each chapter's author then responds to the issues raised by the commentators. The result is a productive dialogue between academics, practitioners and citizens concerned with economic development.

Richard D. Bingham & Zhongcai Zhang, The Economics of Central City Neighborhoods (2001).

Abstract (from Amazon Product Description): This is the first book of its kind to explore central city neighborhood economic structure in relation to demographic, socioeconomic, labor force, and housing variables. In The Economies of Central City Neighborhoods Bingham and Zhang examine the location of industry employment in a variety of producer and consumer-oriented industries in relation to major neighborhood characteristics such as demographic, labor force, socioeconomic, and housing variables. This study is informative and illuminating to central city revitalization/redevelopment planning and related efforts that often take place at the neighborhood level. While the primacy of poverty is an aspect of central city neighborhoods that drives the growth and decline of neighborhood economies, it implies the significance of effective intervention at early stages of neighborhood economic disintegration. Neighborhood cluster of industries suggests a direction of neighborhood redevelopment, and the pervasive spill-over effects of this necessitate the coordination among redevelopment initiatives of bordering neighborhoods. The research in this text contributes to the urban literature by providing an industry-by-industry analysis of the economies of central city sub-areas in Ohio.

Richard D. Bingham & John P. Blair, Urban Economic Development (1984).

Abstract: This text discusses the effectiveness of various policies which aim to stimulate private sector activity in urban areas. It examines urban enterprise zones; grants and investments; federal, state and local development programmes; and four case studies of city projects.


Peter Medoff & Holly Sklar, Streets of Hope: The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood (2009).

Abstract (from Corporation for National & Community Service website): This text focuses on a Boston neighborhood that became a community by organizing and developing through the use of the resident-led Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI). It examines how effective organizing reinforces neighborhood leadership, encourages grassroots power, and leads to successful public-private partnerships and comprehensive community development.

Simon Tseko Tampi Mogotsi, BLACK URBAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP (2d ed. 1977).


Ellen Baker et al., Emergence, Social Capital and Entrepreneurship: Understanding Networks from the Inside, 13 Emergence: Complexity & Org. 21 (2011).

Abstract (from authors): Communities are a major research context for both social capital and entrepreneurship, and 'networks' is a core concept within both frameworks. There is need for conceptualizing network formation processes, and for qualitative studies of the relational aspects of networks and networking, to complement the existing mainly quantitative studies. Within complexity theory, emergence has been linked with formation of entities including networks, and with social entrepreneurship. In this paper, community networks are interpreted as an emergent dynamic process of action and interaction through an empirical case study conducted in an urban community setting. Interviews were conducted with experiential experts at networking. The study was designed within a social capital framework, but frequent reporting of entrepreneurship prompted additional analysis. Practical and theoretical implications of the network study findings are examined in light of the three frameworks together, and further empirical studies are suggested.

Jean-Philippe Berrou & Francois Combarnous, The Personal Networks of Entrepreneurs in an Informal African Urban Economy: Does the ‘Strength of Ties’ Matter?, 70 Rev. Soc. Econ. 1 (2012).

Abstract (adapted from publisher): This paper investigates Granovetter's “strength of weak ties” hypothesis in an informal African urban economy. It outlines an approach articulated around the reticular embeddedness conceptual framework associated with the notion of “ego-centred network.” The content of ties in an entrepreneur's network is described by three salient dimensions: strength, social role and exchanged resources. The authors use an original dataset collected in the informal economy of Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina Faso) to evaluate how the content and strength of ties influence entrepreneurs' economic outcomes. The instrument of multiple name generators provides a vast amount of information that can be used to compute quantitative measures of the composition of networks. The authors show that both strength of ties and proportion of business ties have a significant positive impact on economic outcomes. It reveals the importance for small urban informal entrepreneurs to draw on both embedded social relations and more autonomous ones.

Hanas A. Cader & John C. Leatherman, Entrepreneurship in Technological Regimes in Metro and Non-Metro Areas, 7 Int'l J. Foresight & Innov. Pol'y 114 (2011).

Abstract (from journal): Entrepreneurship (small firm entry) within a defined technological regime is examined using regional, establishment, and industry characteristics in metro, metro-adjacent, and non-metro regions in the state of Kansas, USA. The results show a distinct variation in small firm entry across regions. The variation is explained by the quality of the labor force, industry clustering, establishment size, labor intensity, county establishment growth rate, and the presence of an interstate highway. The contribution of this paper is the empirical examination of the validity of claims that entrepreneurship in technological regimes is more prevalent in the metro region and decreases with increasing remoteness.

James H. Carr & Lisa J. Servon, Vernacular Culture and Urban Economic Development: Thinking Outside the (Big) Box, 75(1) J. Am. Plan. Ass’n 28 (2009).

Abstract (from authors): Problem: This Article addresses the increasing homogeneity of urban commercial areas and the loss of local culture associated with this trend. It seeks to identify strategies that build effectively on vernacular culture as an asset in neighborhood development. Purpose: We aim to identify tools that advance the cultural preservation approach to urban economic development and to describe instances in which planners and neighborhood groups have applied these tools successfully. Methods: We completed a wide-ranging literature review to identify the characteristics of places that have employed cultural preservation approaches and conducted six case studies involving 43 interviews in five cities. Results and conclusions: Our interviews and case studies showed us that there are at least three types of anchors in neighborhoods with strong vernacular culture: 1) markets; 2) ethnic areas and heritage sites; 3) and arts-and-culture venues and districts. Although the balance between preservation and development will be different in each place, we did cull some widely applicable lessons learned while conducting our fieldwork: a) involve residents; b) find assets in local needs; c) transfer lessons rather than replicating others' work; d) create opportunities for ownership; e) if it doesn't exist, invent it; and f) balance culture and commerce. Our analysis also suggests that a neighborhood wishing to pursue a neighborhood development strategy based on vernacular culture should have at least one of the anchors listed above and strong, community-based organizations. Takeaway for practice: We argue that it is both possible and preferable to advance an urban economic development strategy based on the local cultural assets that exist in urban neighborhoods. Our research illustrates different paths that places have taken to advance this kind of strategy and provides several ways for local planners and policymakers to integrate the maintenance of vernacular culture into their larger economic development plans. Research support: Our research was supported by the Fannie Mae Foundation.

Barbara Heebels & Irina Van Aalst, Creative Clusters in Berlin: Entrepreneurship and the Quality of Place in Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg, 92 Geografiska Annaler, Series B: Human Geography 347 (2010).

Abstract (from author): Urban creative clusters are currently a major focus of attention, as their prominent position in both local political and academic circles makes evident. Many authors stress the importance of spatial concentration for creative industries. However, only a few studies have focused on the individual entrepreneur. As a result, empirical evidence of the meaning of urban place as a site for social networks and a space for inspiration is still scarce. This is of some consequence as entrepreneurs provide a crucial link between creative activities and economic change and development. This study contributes to the existing literature by investigating how different creative entrepreneurs choose and evaluate their location. Using qualitative interviews with entrepreneurs in two creative clusters in the Berlin neighborhoods Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg, this article shows the significance of the look and feel of specific places and explains how and for whom local networks are important.

Edward L. Glaeser, Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, Entrepreneurship and Urban Growth: An Empirical Assessment with Historical Mines (Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial Management, Working Paper No. 13-015, 2012), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2127249.

Abstract (adapted from authors): Measures of entrepreneurship, such as average establishment size and the prevalence of start-ups, correlate strongly with employment growth across and within metropolitan areas, but the endogeneity of these measures bedevils interpretation. Chinitz (1961) hypothesized that coal mines near Pittsburgh led that city to specialization in industries, like steel, with significant scale economies and that those big firms led to a dearth of entrepreneurial human capital across several generations. The authors test this idea by looking at the spatial location of past mines across the United States: proximity to historical mining deposits is associated with bigger firms and fewer start-ups in the middle of the 20th century. Mines are used as an instrument for entrepreneurship measures and find a persistent link between entrepreneurship and city employment growth; this connection works primarily through lower employment growth of start-ups in cities that are closer to mines. These effects hold in cold and warm regions alike and in industries that are not directly related to mining, such as trade, finance and services. The authors use quantile instrumental variable regression techniques and identify mostly homogeneous effects throughout the conditional city growth distribution.

Darrene Hackler, Unlocking the Potential of Innovation and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Local Policy in Cities (2012), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2138170.

Abstract (by author): As cities face increasing global competition and fiscal constraints in the post-recession economy, many city leaders wonder from what source future growth will emerge. One answer to this question is innovation, but the act of entrepreneurship assembles the components of knowledge and technology in the innovation process and amplifies the factors of economic growth. Cities that create and foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship will be better positioned for economic recovery, job creation, greater resiliency, and the potential for regional economic transformation. This paper examines the concepts of innovation and entrepreneurship in relation to job creation from startups and young and second-stage small business and reviews the barriers and policy options that local governments can use to address them. The paper proposes a role for local government policy in cultivating and fostering an innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem with strategies that research has shown help to remove barriers and support entrepreneurs’ and small business development. Local actions and programmatic approaches can facilitate networks of public and private stakeholders that build trust and collaboration and leverage of local and regional assets. The paper suggests possible problems that these approaches can encounter due to varied conceptions of entrepreneurship and innovation. The last section of the paper considers the fiscal issues associated with development and support of an innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, as well as how a nuanced fiscal structure may capture the fiscal impacts.

Nataliia Kravchenko et al., Information Externalities and Small Business Lending by Banks: A Comparison of Urban and Rural Counties in the U.S. (2011), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1968965.

Abstract (from authors): It is widely recognized that small business is not only an important source of employment but is the genesis of virtually all successful large enterprises. Given their size and characteristic opaqueness, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) tend to be more financially constrained than large firms because of the lack of access to external financing from both banks and capital markets. Though building a relationship provides the loan officer more information about the individual entrepreneur, there are other factors that can influence the success or failure of an enterprise. The authors divide the entrepreneurial information available to bank loan officers into three segments: information about competition in the local banking market, information about success and failures of other SMEs in the local market, and information about how well other banks are performing in the local market. The primary purpose of this paper is to find proxies for this entrepreneurial information and to gauge its impact on bank lending in a geographical area. The authors then test to see how the proxies for this information impact the dollar volume of small business lending. The analysis uses county level data as the geographical area and controls for general economic conditions such as the level of income and the endowments of human capital. The paper confirms the importance of entrepreneurial information in influencing the level of SME lending by banks.

Chuthatip Maneepong & John Christopher Walsh, A New Generation of Bangkok Street Vendors: Economic Crisis as Opportunity and Threat, 34 Cities 37 (2013).

Abstract (adapted from authors): In 1997, the financial crisis seriously damaged the Thai economy and led to the closing of many companies. Previously, it had been believed that laid-off workers would mostly return to rural employment or part-time urban tasks. However, research among street vendors in Bangkok reveals that many of the retrenched workers preferred to, and did, remain in the city and put to use their latent business and entrepreneurial skills to practice by establishing their own informal businesses. This group of vendors tends to dominate these activities, often through business savvy, with experience in the formal sector. Instead of the “street” image of vendors being that of domestic migrants, the “new generation” of vendors is evolving into something more complex. The paper focuses on documenting and understanding the phenomenon of new generation street vendors. The authors attempt to derive lessons from the 1997 economic crisis to improve the transition of vendors from the formal to “new” informal sector under current, and likely worsening, economic conditions. This paper analyses how and why these two groups express themselves and how they respond differently to the socio-economic and political forces that have an impact on the urban space they share. It then considers whether policy makers should regard street vending as a viable part of the economy which is not transitional but more permanent and should be regarded as an important part of the urban economy of industrializing nations such as Thailand.

Adam Mossoff, The Death of Poletown: The Future of Eminent Domain and Urban Development after County of Wayne v. Hathcock2004 Mich. St. L. Rev. 837, 840 (2004).

Haifeng Qian, Diversity Versus Tolerance: The Social Drivers of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in US Cities, 50 Urb. Stud. 2718 (2013).

Abstract (from publisher): Popularized by the work of Richard Florida, the role of tolerance, openness and social or cultural diversity in urban development has gained much attention. Recent literature on urban and regional economics has found associations between these social factors and technology, entrepreneurship, innovation, housing and economic performance. In most of these studies, the terms tolerance, openness and diversity are generally conflated or interchangeably used. This article argues that diversity’s impacts on innovation and entrepreneurship are notably different from tolerance and openness and that diversity should be defined and measured differently from tolerance and openness. This article uses data of US metropolitan areas to examine the statistical difference between diversity and tolerance, and compares the effect of each on innovation and entrepreneurship in multivariate analysis. Diversity is measured using the Herfindahl–Hirschman index based on countries of birth, while tolerance is measured using the composite gay and bohemian index.

Lisa J. Servon, Microenterprise Programs in U.S. Inner Cities: Economic Development or Social Welfare? 11 Econ. Dev. Q. (1997).

Abstract:  The microenterprise strategy marries elements of economic development and social welfare strategies and agendas. This article uses case studies of three inner-city microenterprise programs to demonstrate that the results of this blending are over-whelmingly positive. At the same time, working in the interstices of the economic development and social welfare fields is complex, and the results that programs produce do not fit easily into traditional outcome categories. The programs studied do more to help those who exist at the margins of the mainstream economy than those who are completely cut off from the economic mainstream. They help change the mind-set of people by giving them the hope they need to take charge of their own lives. By helping people begin to think strategically about creating better futures for themselves and providing them with the tools necessary to make that happen, these programs shift the focus of policy from maintenance to investment.

Annet Jantien Smit, The Influence of District Visual Quality on Location Decisions of Creative Entrepreneurs, 77 J. Am. Planning Ass’n 167 (2011).

Abstract (adapted from author): This article examines the ways in which creative entrepreneurs consider a district’s visual form when deciding where to locate a business. There is a high correlation between a district’s form and a creative entrepreneur’s desire to work there.

Robert Smith, Observing Community-based Entrepreneurship and Social Networking at Play in an Urban Village Setting, 12 Int’l J. of Entrepren. & Small Bus. 62 (2010).

Abstract (from author): Entrepreneurship as a manifestation of change is vital in terms of jobs and business dynamism. However, entrepreneurship as a social activity occurs in time and space and is seen as a natural, organic process. The authors assume this change will occur naturally, but this can be interrupted by planned change. This observational study examines the influence of socio-cultural factors on the evolution of community-based entrepreneurial activity in an urban village setting using the social metrics of home, habitus and habituation to examine how this activity develops within a planned monocultural middle class enclave. Studying social entrepreneurship in a fixed social setting permits us to investigate the embededdness of the entrepreneurial process in a naturally occurring environment. When the natural order is interrupted, entrepreneurial activity becomes disjointed and finds new avenues of emergence as community-based entrepreneurial activity in which business is facilitated by social networking and entrepreneurial identity is socially constructed through play.

Lei Wang, Cuz Potter & Zhigang Li, Crisis-induced Reform, State–market Relations and Entrepreneurial Urban Growth in China, 41 Habitat Int’l 50 (2014).

Abstract (from publisher): The urban entrepreneurialism literature on China has focused either on macro-level state devolution or on micro-level place-making initiatives. Little has been written on the meso-level question of how the mode of regulation in general or institutional reforms in particular have worked to forge China’s state-led urban growth by reshaping the state-market relationship. Through an investigation of China’s crisis-induced fiscal and land use reforms since the mid-1990s, this paper argues that piecemeal, gradualist reform has transformed local states from protectionist market actors to investment promoters with monopoly power over land markets. Though this shift has supported entrepreneurial urban growth driven by manufacturing and real estate investment, it also tends to aggravate inter-regional and urban-rural tensions. As a country in transition that faces multiple challenges, China needs more holistic reform framework for sustainable growth.

Kevin Ward, Entrepreneurial Urbanism and Business Improvement Districts in the State of Wisconsin, 100 Annals of the Ass’n of Am. Geographers 1177 (2010).

Abstract (adapted from author): This article examines the relationship between local governance and entrepreneurship, using Wisconsin Business Improvement Districts as reference points for developing a theory of urban revalorization.

Rik Wenting et al., Urban Amenities and Agglomeration Economies?: The Locational Behaviour and Economic Success of Dutch Fashion Design Entrepreneurs, 48 Urban Stud. 1333 (2011).

Abstract: This article compares the influence of agglomeration economies versus urban amenities in Dutch designers’ decisions of where to locate their businesses, finding that amenities were the more important consideration.

Rosalinde Klein Woolthuis et al., Institutional Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Urban Development: Dutch Successes as Inspiration for Transformation, 50 J. Cleaner Production 91 (2013).

Abstract (adapted from authors): Sustainable urban development is a wicked problem. On the basis of three case studies, the authors conclude that institutional entrepreneurs play an important role in sustainable urban development. The question the authors address is how institutional entrepreneurs do this. They theorize and find six tactics that entrepreneurs employ to influence both formal and informal institutions to create a favorable institutional context for sustainable development by combining insights from both institutional theory and institutional economics. Through framing and theorizing institutional entrepreneurs create new visions on sustainable urban developments, whereas collaboration and lobbying are important for the realization of the projects. The study adds new insights into how negotiation (private governance contracts, property rights) and standardization (certification, standards) form a key to altering incentive schemes and to create a competitive advantage. Through the joint changes in both informal institutions and the formal institutions the entrepreneurs are able to change the institutional context in which projects are embedded, thereby increasing the feasibility of their projects.

Online Resources

Zoltan J. Acs & Catherine Armington, Endogenous Growth and Entrepreneurial Activity in Cities, Ctr. for Econ. Stud. (2003).

(CUEED) The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development at Rutgers Business School, http://www.business.rutgers.edu/cueed

ICIC (Initiative for a Competitive Inner City), Research and Analysis, http://www.icic.org/research-and-analysis

Gregg A. Lichtenstein, Building Social Capital: A New Strategy for Retaining and Revitalizing Inner-City Manufacturers, Collaborative Strategies (1999).

Other Materials

Candida G. Brush, Daniel J. Monti, Amy M. Gannon & Andrea D. Ryan, Inner City Entrepreneurs: Building Ventures and Expanding Community Ties, Presented at the Annual Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference, Indianapolis, IN (2006).

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