pp. 424-425. , 2 p.
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The theoretical work exploring entrepreneurship for persons with disabilities started
in the late 1980s, but there is still a scarcity of theory and empirical evidence
(Parker Harris et al. 2013, 2014a, 2014b). This is due to little reliable global data
(Pagán 2009), disability being a heterogeneous social construct referring to an extremely
diverse set of individuals (Renko et al. 2015), as well as disability varying in type,
severity, stability, time of onset, etc. (Dhar and Farzana 2017). As motivation, personal
characteristics and socio-economic conditions may also vary individually, this makes
theorising or researching as well as any supportive policy-making challenging. (Kitching
Along the advances of Critical Entrepreneurship Studies set out to deconstruct notions
of entrepreneurship and raise questions concerning both epistemology and practice,
a new necessity arose to give voice to the so far “forgotten minority” (Cooney 2008,
Saxena and Pandya 2018). As neoliberal ableist ideals favour independent and economically
productive citizens, people with disabilities are often marginalized and oppressed
(Goodley 2014). Using the concept of ableism from Critical Disability Studies, we
wish to explore the way entrepreneurs with disability (EWD) understand their position
and form their identities as entrepreneurs who happen to be disabled or as entrepreneurs
disabled by society’s restraints.
The current exploratory qualitative study (Bagheri et al. 2015, Cooper and Emory 1995)
investigates and analyses the goals and motivational background of EWD as well as
the barriers and the supporting factors they experience. A special focus is on the
construction of professional identity, how EWD build their identities as opposed to
the entrepreneurial archetype of the white male able-bodied hero (Essers and Benschop
2007). As typical entrepreneurial characteristics (self-realization, taking risks,
creativity, innovation, manage and lead others, etc.) usually contradict with the
image of persons with disabilities (vulnerable, helpless, slow, sickly, weak, need
supervision, have low work-morale, etc.), EWD have to overcome double obstacles (Bagheri
and Abbariki 2017, De Clercq and Honig 2011).
The ten semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted in various county-wide
locations in Hungary in the summer of 2018, and were based on 26 open-ended questions.
Respondents were contacted with the help of a snowball sample selection strategy (Silverman
2008). While a contribution to the theory was essential, the regional scope of the
empirical research itself was also of importance, insofar as very little relevant
empirical research has been done in the Central-European region.
Naturally, the findings of the study are bounded by the limitations of the accessible
literature, its complex global and national understanding as well as the limited number
of respondents. The gaps in theory and practice make any generalization difficult
and conclusion cautious. Nevertheless, the intention was to acknowledge the existence
of EWD and explore and indicate some initial patterns and insights which could deepen
the academic and professional understanding of their situation and inform Critical
Entrepreneurship and Management Studies as well as policy-making. Some implications
on ableist assumptions on the work of persons with disabilities are also discussed.
This research was supported by a grant from the Higher Education Institutional Excellence
Programme of the Hungarian Ministry of Human Capacities to the Budapest Business School
– University of Applied Sciences (20405-3/2018/FEKUTSTART).
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