Entrepreneurial Workaround Practices in Severe Institutional Voids: Evidence From Kenya

Benedetto Lorenzo Cannatelli, Mario Marco Molteni, Alisa Sydow, Alessandro Giudici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Entrepreneurs in developing economies try to cope with weak or absent formal institutions—often referred to as “institutional voids”—by relying extensively on intermediary organizations such as business incubators and development organizations or informal institutions such as political, kinship, or family relationships. However, in many African countries, intermediary support is limited and informal institutions are also unreliable, adding risks and costs to doing business and increasing the severity of institutional voids in the surrounding ecosystem. We investigate the practices followed by 47 commercial entrepreneurs in Kenya to “work around” these severe institutional voids to achieve their goals of business creation and growth. We find that severe institutional voids stimulate the hybridization of goals to include social value creation, create a need for a more strategic orchestration of business relationships, and motivate entrepreneurs to proactively cross- brace the institutional infrastructure around them. We contribute by unveiling the important role of entrepreneurs as microinstitutional agents in developing economies and by detailing how commercial and social goals become intertwined in the context of African entrepreneurship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-37
Number of pages37
JournalEntrepreneurship Theory and Practice
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Africa
  • African entrepreneurship
  • Developing economies
  • Imprenditorialità in Africa


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