Towards a nuanced typology of illegal entrepreneurship: A theoretical and conceptual overview

Gerard McElwee, Robert Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose — The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the topic and discuss the individual chapters in this volume as well as to provide an intellectual orientation which will hopefully inspire casual readers to read further. The main thesis behind this volume is that entrepreneurial crime and illegal enterprise span two very distinct yet complimentary academic disciplines — namely Criminology and Entrepreneurial/Business Studies. And that we need to take cognisance of both instead of writing and publishing in disciplinary silos. Methodology/approach — Our methodological approach in this volume is predominantly qualitative and in addition mainly review based. Our editorial approach is/was one of laissez-faire in that we did not want to stifle authorial creativity or impose order where there was none, or very little. The result is a very eclectic collection of interesting readings which we hope will challenge researchers interested in the topics to cross interand intra-disciplinary literature in search of new theoretical models. Findings — Rather than findings we see the contribution of the volume as being an attempt to start conversations between disciplines. We appreciate that this is only a beginning. There are discoveries and perhaps a need to redraw boundaries. One surprising finding was how much the authors all drew on the seminal work of William Baumol to the extent that it has become a common framework for understanding the cross overs. Research limitations/implications — There are many limitations to the chapters in this volume. The main one is that in any edited volume the editors are faced with a dilemma of allowing more voices to emerge or imposing a restrictive explanatory framework which in turn shoe horns the chapters into an over-arching sense-making architecture. The limitation of this volume is that it can only present a few of the voices and only begin a synthesis. Interested researchers must work hard to draw meaning from the eclectic voices. Practical implications — The practical implications from this chapter and the edited chapters are manifold. The chapters deal with complex issues and we have opted to allow the authorial voice to be heard and to allow disciplinary writing styles to remain as they are. This allows a very practical understanding of everyday implications to emerge. There are many policy implications which arise from this introductory chapter and the chapters in this volume but these will take time to manifest themselves. The main point to take away is that to understand and interdict crime and in particular entrepreneurial crime we must draw on inter-disciplinary knowledge and theories of entrepreneurship and business in a wider sense. Originality/value — This chapter introduces a series of apparently separate yet interconnected chapters which explore the bounds and boundaries of illegal entrepreneurship and its originality lies in its approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-22
Number of pages20
JournalContemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Towards a nuanced typology of illegal entrepreneurship: A theoretical and conceptual overview'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this