A study of non-farm entrepreneurs in Ethiopia
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are viewed as key to family livelihood and poverty reduction in developing countries, but their resilience in such turbulent, resource-scarce contexts depends on the strategic actions taken by entrepreneurs in acquiring, bundling, and leveraging scarce resources. These strategic actions and practices are categorized, in this thesis, as resource orchestration (RO) processes. From a strategic entrepreneurship perspective, the firm’s entrepreneurial orientation (EO) is a key driver of these orchestration processes. However, business resilience is not an end goal in itself and must be linked to family livelihood, thus requiring the investigation of supportive survival strategies used in this context. This thesis, therefore, focuses on advancing the debates on business resilience, resource orchestration processes driven by EO, and survival strategies that support non-farm entrepreneurs in improving family livelihood in the context of a developing country (i.e., Ethiopia).
The results of a survey of 408 non-farm entrepreneurs show that EO drives resource orchestration processes and explains the differences between firms’ resilience (Chapters 4 and 5). Supportive strategies are also identified that confirm entrepreneurial efforts to transform business resilience into a contribution to family livelihood (Chapter 6). This empirical research is based on two preparatory studies: conducting an extensive literature review of the state of the art of SME-related resilience studies (Chapter 2), building, and testing a resilience measurement instrument in resource-scarce disruptive environments (Chapter 3). Both studies contribute new insights to the resilience literature.
This thesis informs theory and practice related to increasing the business resilience of SMEs and turning this resilience into a family livelihood in resource-scarce disruptive business environments. This thesis makes empirical and theoretical contributions that critically engage with these issues in the context of developing countries. Based on the results, this thesis suggests further research and discusses implications for entrepreneurs, researchers, policymakers, and business practitioners.