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WI Institute of Rural Economics


Rural Entrepreneurship

Gründungungsidee und Gründungswachstum
Das Projekt untersucht Umfang, Ursachen und Wirkungen von Entrepreneurship in ländlichen Räumen

Rural Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship can have a positive impact on the development of industries and regions. However, the incidence, causes and effects of entrepreneurship differ significantly between rural and non-rural regions. These differences have not yet been adequately studied.

Background and Objective

Entrepreneurship describes activities that are concerned with founding or establishing and managing a new company. Type, scale, and impact of entrepreneurship can vary considerably from region to region, especially between rural and non-rural areas. The reasons for this are extremely diverse. The uneven distribution of people with characteristics conducive to entrepreneurship plays just as much a role as differences in industry structure or population density.

The main objectives of the research project are to describe and explain entrepreneurship in rural and non-rural areas and to identify typical patterns and mechanisms by which entrepreneurship in rural and non-rural areas can be distinguished from each other.


First, regional entrepreneurship activities and their development over time are described in detail using suitable databases. The data sets come from five sources: the startupdetector, the IAB/ZEW Start-Up Panel, the Mannheim Enterprise Panel (MUP), the Mannheim Innovation Panel (MIP) and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM).

This is followed by a theory-based empirical analysis of the influencing factors underlying the patterns and developments of entrepreneurship. Subsequently, the most important factors of the different levels of influence (person, company, industry, region) are compiled and the interactions prevailing between them are analyzed in detail. The next step is to determine the regional economic effects induced by entrepreneurship.

Regarding both the causes and the effects of entrepreneurship, it will be examined whether specific impact mechanisms exist for certain types of regions, in particular for rural and non-rural areas, which may require a differentiated economic policy strategy.

Our Research Questions

  • How does regional entrepreneurship develop over time?
  • Which determinants influence the quantity and quality of entrepreneurship, and how do these determinants interact?
  • What relation is there between entrepreneurship and regional economic development?
  • Which differences exist between non-rural and rural areas, and how can they be explained?
  • Which guidelines should an entrepreneurship oriented economic policy adopt?

Involved external Thünen-Partners

  • Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung (ZEW)
    (Mannheim, Deutschland)
  • Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung
    (Nürnberg, Deutschland)
  • Leibniz Universität Hannover
    (Hannover, Deutschland)


5.2021 - 4.2024

More Information

Funding program: Bundesprogramm Ländliche Entwicklung
Project status: ongoing

Publications at Thünen Institute to the project

  1. 0

    Bergmann H, Geissler M, Hundt C, Grave B (2018) The climate for entrepreneurship at higher education institutions. Res Policy 47(4):700-716, DOI:10.1016/j.respol.2018.01.018

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