Call for Chapters: ‘The De Gruyter Handbook of Rural Entrepreneurship in Developing Economies: Research, Policy and Practice.’


Gerard McElwee and Rob Smith

Call for Chapters

Despite significant changes to the agricultural sector worldwide and major changes in demographic and population internal migrations and rural environs in recent years, the topic of rural enterprise and rural entrepreneurship in developing economies has not been the subject of concerted academic attention. As a consequence, with the exception of a few texts, the area remains relatively under-researched. This is particularly the case at the international level. This handbook aims to bridge this gap in the literature by offering a collection of contemporary research contributions that explore the complex nature of rural enterprise across a range of settings and geographical contexts. In particular, the book will include up to date policy contributions, as well as valuable insights into rural enterprise in practice in developing economies.

This handbook is concerned with defining and conceptualising rural entrepreneurship in developing economies. Much rural enterprise policy tends to be US or European focussed with an almost hegemonic notion that these countries have a superior knowledge of rural policy and rural entrepreneurship.  Yet, it may be the case that rural entrepreneurship in some less developed countries is actually considerably more advanced in its practice, particularly when it comes to innovation to help mitigate the effects of the climate and environmental crisis.  We are keen to identify innovative practices in developing economies which can be introduced and shared in developed economies to encourage new green growth and sustainability.

In addition, although all regional and national economies consist of urban and rural components, much of the entrepreneurship literature tends to have an urban-centric focus. Thus, this book focuses on two important questions. Firstly, should there actually be a categorisation called ‘rural entrepreneurship’ or is it simply ‘entrepreneurial activity’ that occurs in rural environments? Secondly, is a ‘rural’ business any different to an ‘urban’ business in terms of how it ‘does business?’ By way of laying the foundation for the wide range of contributions presented in this book a key aim is to seek to explore how and why a rural enterprise can be defined, and determine whether rural entrepreneurship is a distinctive category of entrepreneurship theory and practice. Building on descriptive rural enterprise taxonomies proposed in previous studies (see, for example, McElwee 2008; McElwee and Smith, 2012; McElwee, Smith and Somerville, 2018), we consider the drivers and barriers impacting on firm start up, growth and decline in rural environments in developing economies.

We invite chapters of no more than 6000 words. Prospective authors are encouraged to contact the lead editor Dr Gerard McElwee with an expression of interest and to engage in discussion regarding the potential impact and scope of their chapter.

Timescales for chapter submission.

  • June, 2021: Chapter invitations / Call for Chapters
  • November 15th 2021: Chapter drafts, including figures and images permissions
  • Feb 15: Reviews and feedback
  • May, 2022: Revised chapters
  • June, 2022: Full manuscript
  • End of 2022: digital version release?


McElwee, G. (2008) ‘The Rural Entrepreneur: Problems of Definition’ International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business 6(3) 320-321

McElwee, G., & Smith, R. (2012) ‘Classifying the strategic capability of farmers: a segmentation framework’ International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing 3(4) 111-131

McElwee, G., Smith, R. & Somerville, P. (2018)‚’Conceptualising animation in rural communities‘ Entrepreneurship and Regional Development (30) 1-2 173-198


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