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Journal of Macromarketing http://jmk.sagepub.


Transformative Subsistence Entrepreneurship: A Study in India

Srinivas Sridharan, Elliot Maltz, Madhubalan Viswanathan and Samir Gupta
Journal of Macromarketing published online 3 April 2014
DOI: 10.1177/0276146714529659

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Journal of Macromarketing
Transformative Subsistence The Author(s) 2014
Reprints and permission:
Entrepreneurship: A Study DOI: 10.1177/0276146714529659
in India

Srinivas Sridharan1, Elliot Maltz2, Madhubalan Viswanathan3,

and Samir Gupta1

There are millions of subsistence entrepreneurs around the world, located primarily in developing countries, engaging in micro
enterprise to eke out a survival living when other labor market options become unavailable. However, the vast majority of them
are trapped in a survival and maintenance cycle. This article focuses on a phenomenon involving a subset of subsistence
entrepreneurs who do manage to thrive and grow their enterprise. We label the phenomenon transformative subsistence entre-
preneurship, reflecting (1) significant positive change in their personal, social and economic well-being, and (2) significant positive
influence on their immediate communities. Drawing on 18 in-depth qualitative interviews, we show how the phenomenon plays
out and how transformative subsistence entrepreneurs carry out vital marketing activities in their local exchange contexts, rising
above substantial life challenges and end up improving the economic capacities of their communities as well. We contend that the
contributions of a network of such transformative subsistence entrepreneurs, each seen at a micro enterprise level of analysis, can
accumulate and coalesce to emerge as the backbone of the informal economy at a macroeconomic level.

subsistence entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, micro enterprise, India, macromarketing

Introduction Background: Marketing Scholarship, Poverty

Within the marketing discipline insights are emerging on and Disadvantage
marketplaces in impoverished contexts. This is an oppor- The marketing discipline has long studied consumers experi-
tune development, for most of the worlds market-based encing disadvantage (Andreasen 1993), vulnerability (Baker,
exchange indeed occurs in economically impoverished Gentry, and Rittenburg 2005), and the stigma of impoverished
environments (de Soto 1989). This article contributes to the living (Hill and Stamey 1990) and is now beginning to inspire
disciplinary interest by presenting a study focused on entre- a new, transformative consumer research agenda on poverty
preneurial activity occurring within subsistence market- (Blocker et al. 2013). Macromarketing scholarship itself has
place contexts. Millions of subsistence entrepreneurs also provided long-standing insight into impoverished mar-
are active around the world, particularly in developing kets by analyzing national or regional marketing systems that
countries where they engage in micro enterprise to eke out shape both the antecedents and consequences of poverty (e.g.
a survival living when other labor market options become Dholakia 1984; Harrison et al. 1974). From a theoretical point
unavailable (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor [GEM] of view, macromarketing scholarship offers uniquely useful
2009). However, the vast majority of them are trapped in
a necessity, survival and maintenance cycle and their
activity does not affect national economic development
(Acs 2006). Here, we introduce the phenomenon of trans- 1
Monash University, Caulfield East, Victoria, Australia
formative subsistence entrepreneurship, characterizing the 2
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University, Salem,
process through which a subset of subsistence entrepreneurs OR, USA
manage to thrive and grow their businesses and experience College of Business, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, USA
enhanced personal well-being. Importantly, this phenom-
Corresponding Author:
enon also charts how such entrepreneurs positively influ- Srinivas Sridharan, Department of Marketing, Monash University, 26 Sir John
ence the subsistence communities in which they operate, Monash Drive, Caulfield East, Victoria 3145, Australia.
a core macromarketing concern. Email:

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2 Journal of Macromarketing

lenses to organize, interpret, and explain marketplace systems In the quest to address the above limitations, we note the
and phenomena in poverty contexts (Meade and Nason 1991). extensive knowledge, compiled over decades, of informal
Two strands of recent research reflect a central focus on economies in the broader social science disciplines. This liter-
communities experiencing widespread poverty. First, man- ature can be brought to bear. In particular, economists have
agement scholars have embraced the concept of base of the extensively documented informal economic activity (Thomas
pyramid markets, referring to the lowest income segments of 1992) and commented on its market structures and incentives
global consumer markets (Prahalad 2010). This stream has (de Soto 1989); development scholars have analyzed its impli-
anchored its work to the axioms of neoclassical economics. cations for human and skills development (Harriss-White
It casts consumers in poverty as rational utility optimizers, 2004); sociologists have revealed its social paradoxes (Portes
who will appreciate high quality market offerings made by 1994); political scientists have critiqued the political rules of
competent firms if such choice is made accessible. The locus income generation causing its emergence (Tripp 1997); and
of analysis is typically a non-poor, resourceful, private sector finally, anthropologists have criticized the counter productive-
firm, and thus the narrative is one of marketing to the ness of using the term, informal economy, for real understand-
poor. Marketing scholars have explored the notion of sub- ing of human progress (Peattie 1987). The literature on the
sistence marketplaces, focusing on survivalist consumption informal economy has always remained in close proximity to
occurring within socially embedded exchange traditions the broader literature on poverty alleviation (Moser 1998),
(Viswanathan and Rosa 2007). This approach has been although the informal economy contains both impoverished
bottom-up, aiming to understand the marketplace process and non-impoverished segments.
at work, rather than study the purposeful action of business The crossover of the two literatures can be best detected in
managers. Amongst other things, it has highlighted the blur- the profuse treatment of the microfinance sector in recent years
ring of economic and social spheres in consumption and as a promising poverty alleviation mechanism (Morduch
marketing decisions in subsistence contexts (Viswanathan 1999). Typically, however such a crossover has presented a
et al. 2012). Although, beginning at a micro-behavioral paradox. While on the one hand, microfinance programs have
level, it has studied exchange systems, thus complementing been championed by the global formal institutional sector with
macromarketing goals of inquiry into the nature and roles of social impact objectives in mind (e.g., poverty reduction), their
marketplaces (see Layton and Grossbart 2006). efficacy in fostering financial development in an economy is
Taken together, these intellectual backgrounds can be seen hotly debated (Morduch 2000). Pre-existing informal lending
as the disciplines overall reflections of poverty and its allevia- institutions have far from disappeared with the advent of
tion. As such, they form a solid platform on which to build. microfinance institutions and in fact have proliferated in the
However, some gaps remain to be overcome. same locations and become the intermediary suppliers of
repayment capital to microfinance consumers (Jain and
Mansuri 2003). This is a testament to the ability of the informal
Research Gaps and Opportunity sector to throw up emergent solutions to a local problem
First, less knowledge has been accumulated on the producer, (Viswanathan et al. 2012). Such paradoxes remain in need of
entrepreneurial side of poverty than on the consumer side. strong explanations, but the broader poverty alleviation-
Efforts to understand the sellers side of the exchange dyad are informal economy literatures do not appear to be grounded in
relatively recent (Viswanathan et al. 2012). Emerging insights the principles of marketing exchange and market development.
reveal how subsistence entrepreneurs cope, survive, and nego- Thus opportunity exists to strengthen marketing contributions
tiate an adverse marketplace (Viswanathan, Rosa, and Ruth to such substantial inter-disciplinary discourse on informal
2010). The current study extends this thinking and examines economies and poverty by integrating the theoretical perspec-
how a subset of subsistence entrepreneurs reach further, and tives of macromarketing with the emerging phenomena-
adapt, thrive, and shape an entrepreneurial marketplace. driven insights of subsistence marketplaces, which are informal
Second, inquiry into informal (versus formal) marketing economies.
systems is sparse. In most developing countries, an informal
economy, which is partially or fully outside government reg-
Focal Phenomenon - Transformative Subsistence
ulation, and where the poorest essentially support themselves,
not only exists, but is growing (Becker 2004; Portes 1994). It
provides economic opportunities for the poor where formal This article works toward this objective by reporting the
systems fail to provide means to survive. Yet, we know little findings of a study of entrepreneurs in subsistence settings in two
about the marketing systems underpinning such informal states of India. We analyze 18 in-depth interviews recently con-
economies. The subsistence literature has begun to study how ducted in these contexts and present a view of transformative
informal marketing systems operate internally (Viswanathan, subsistence entrepreneurship, a transformative value-creating
Rosa, and Ruth 2010). The present study expands and inte- path taken by some entrepreneurs operating in an informal sub-
grates these emerging insights more tightly with the systems sistence economy. It has potential for bi-dimensional growth (i.e.
perspective, addressing issues of growth and interplay with for the entrepreneurs and for the communities in which they
formal marketing systems. live). Individuals in this process can be contrasted with a

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Sridharan et al. 3

majority of other subsistence entrepreneurs who focus on sur- the boundary of subsistence living, but no longer merely fight-
vival and livelihood maintenance. Our study uncovers environ- ing survival. With regard to the core phenomenon of interest,
mental triggers that can motivate individuals to attempt the transformative entrepreneurship in subsistence markets, the
shift from subsistence to transformative subsistence entrepre- sample can be thought of as encompassing individuals going
neurship (TSE) and also identifies entrepreneurial qualities and through the process, exhibiting differing levels of progress but
business model approaches that supply the ability and opportu- all having some potential to achieve TSE.
nity to follow through on a path to TSE. Informants were typically between 30 and 50 years old,
The remainder of the article is organized as follows. We had low formal education (dropping out earlier than tenth
describe our study, detailing the method and findings gleaned grade in school), and were typically a part of a family with
from our interpretation of informants narrations. Using the children. Hence the majority of informants did not possess
themes from the data as a basis, we then develop a growth- anything more than rudimentary literacy and numeracy skills.
oriented, open-systems model of TSE, and show how it This is, of course, speaking only in the educational sense. All
extends a recently published closed-systems model of subsis- the informants were proficient in oral-verbal literacy, a legit-
tence entrepreneurship. In conclusion, we discuss implications imate form of literacy and cultural communication where the
of the study for macromarketing theory and for the broader spoken word predominates (Ong 2002). Most of the infor-
endeavor of human development. mants were running businesses that began with a focus on
selling a single product directly to end users in the commu-
nity. Over time many of the businesses expanded to selling
A Qualitative Study of Potentially multiple products and/or providing financing to members of
Transformative Subsistence Enterprises the community. Characteristics of the informants and their
in India businesses are summarized in Table 1.
Interviews began broadly and then converged on specific
Data Collection issues, as noted in the literature on this research method
In November 2011, we conducted in-depth interviews with 18 (McCracken 1988). This sequence afforded our informants
local entrepreneurs in two states of India (Tamil Nadu and freedom to express themselves in a comfortable manner. They
West Bengal) for the specific purpose of this inquiry. These would elaborate on the circumstances and evolution of their
interviews had, as precursors, various sets of other interviews lives, gradually transitioning to their current life situation,
and observations over the previous decade as part of a larger inclusive of household economics and community social
subsistence entrepreneurship research program. Thus, data col- dynamics. Embedded within this broader conversation, the
lection was iterative in a community where the research team interviewer would gradually shift and hold the focus to their
had developed rapport. Informants were recruited through a business activities, entrepreneurial decisions, and market beha-
local non-profit organization working in specific low-income viors. Once at this stage, probing questions elicited an under-
communities of Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu. The standing of how they obtained supplies from vendors,
informant recruitment process through a local NGO in West interacted with customers, and managed resources and business
Bengal was similar. One of the authors conducted 15 inter- tasks. The conversational domain about entrepreneurship was
views in Tamil, the local language, with the assistance of two itself broad, encompassing individual traits and skills, aspira-
Tamil-speaking trained interviewers. Another author con- tions and motivations, and the influence of the surrounding
ducted 3 interviews in Bengali, the local language in the town environment. Given the diversity of incomes and business
of Shantiniketan, West Bengal. Informants received small gifts situations in the sample, some informants tended to speak about
for participating. Interviews were audio recorded and typically currently ongoing business circumstances, whereas others,
lasted 6090 minutes. They were transcribed in the local lan- especially those with bigger and better income-generating busi-
guage (Tamil or Bengali) and translated into English. nesses, retrospectively traced their entrepreneurial path leading
The sampling process was purposeful and theoretical up to current life outcomes.
(Schatzman and Strauss 1973). It was guided by the aims of the
research to examine a specific subset of entrepreneurial activity
in subsistence that shows potential for significantly growing
Analytic Method
ones own business and the economic capacity of the commu- We adopted the grounded theory construction method for anal-
nity. We pre-identified 18 subsistence entrepreneurs, using the ysis of the interviews. This is an appropriate approach when the
criteria that their business should be at least three years old and theoretical goal, beyond a phenomenological interest in the
be embedded within a subsistence marketplace. Essentially, the interviewee stories themselves, is to identify higher and
selected informants had achieved a minimum threshold level of more abstract levels of conceptual structures (Martin and
business success, and therefore had financial stability beyond Turner 1986). The analysis involved reading and rereading the
day-to-day survival. Conceptually, this sampling approach transcribed interview text to gain insight into how these indi-
allowed us to examine a range of entrepreneurial situations, viduals became entrepreneurs, how they managed their busi-
personal qualities, behavioral strategies, and outcomes, while nesses, what traits and aspirations they brought to their
ensuring that all informants shared the situation of being near entrepreneurship, and the life outcomes made possible by their

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4 Journal of Macromarketing

Table 1. Sample Characteristics.

Characteristics of the informants and business information


no. Name Gender Age Education Marital status Location Initial Current

1 Dhanam F 34 Yr. 6 Married with 2 Urban Supplier of raw lemons Same business but expanded
2 Partha M 40 Yr. 10 Married with 1 Urban Helper in ration shop Finance business lending money
3 Fatima F 38 Yr. 10 Married with 2 Urban Catering, distributing, selling Same business but expanded
children readymade food
4 Natarajan M Yr. 10 Married with 2 Urban Milk distribution Milk business, loan agent and
children tea shop owner
5 Sunder M Yr. 10 Married Urban Clay pot manufacturer Retailing claypot; nursery and
landscaping business
6 Ragini F Married with 1 Urban Wage employee Cell phone cover manufacturer;
child manufacturing cell phone retailing
7 Manju F Married with 2 Urban Catering, distributing, selling Same business but expanded; rental
children readymade food income from investment
8 Godavari F 34 Yr. 8 Married with 2 Urban Retailing womens clothing Same business but expanded
9 Celina F 30 Yr. 12 Married with 1 Urban Variety of job then main Expanded from selling kitchen
child business selling kitchen utensils to other kitchen and
utensils laundry items (e.g. whitegoods)
10 Valar F 33 Yr. 10 Married with 2 Urban Porter Selling and distribution camphor
children and associated products
11 Shanti F 35 Yr. 5 Married with 2 Urban Selling and distributing Same business but expanded
children utensils
12 Mary F 45 Yr. 6 Married with 2 Urban Provision shop
13 Selvi F 40 Married with 3 Urban Catering, distributing, selling
children readymade food
14 Jogen M 40 Married with 1 Rural Wage employee at bicycle Owner of Bicycle shop Fish
child (one shop monger poultry eggs
deceased) and live goat distributer
15 Dinobondhu M 50 Married with 2 Rural Contract Gardner Contract Gardner Live goat
children distributer

economic progress. Each author constructed detailed memos the authors, leading to a shared interpretation of the findings.
for each interview, leading to the identification of a set of con- As will be discussed in the next section, the analysis yielded
ceptual themes (Corbin and Strauss 2008). Iteratively with this concepts or themes, as well as relationships among the con-
qualitative coding task, each author also studied streams of cepts (Corbin and Strauss 2008).
literature relevant to the subject matter, both within business
disciplines and in the social sciences in general. This ensured
that extant, cross-disciplinary perspectives were incorporated Insights from the Interviews
into the process of interpreting the data. Also, the diverse back- The data from the interviews are presented in thematic form
grounds of the four authors ensured that no one theoretical below. At the outset, we present the central theme and the core
stream dominated the construction of the grounded theory and focus of this research transformative subsistence entrepre-
reduced the likelihood that any one set of assumptions drove neurship (TSE). We then discuss (a) aspects of an individuals
the analysis. environment that can act as motivational triggers for a TSE
Each interview was first analyzed independently by each pathway, (b) entrepreneurial qualities that enable entrepreneurs
author, and then subjected to a discussion. After all interviews to take this pathway, and (c) business model elements that
were analyzed, a composite database was constructed to iden- shape the opportunity for the kind of marketplace outcomes
tify commonalties and exceptions found in the data, including that help fulfill the TSE potential. Thus, rather than look for
the interviews as well as the discussion among authors. In sum, a clear demarcation that places an informant inside or outside
all findings were discussed, challenged, and clarified between the category of TSE, we describe, using the above themes,

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Sridharan et al. 5

those factors that formatively combine to influence the phe- I will have enough profits, which I can afford to use half for my
nomenon and its occurrence at varying levels in our informants. personal expenses.
This is consistent with our view of conceptualizing transforma-
tive subsistence entrepreneurship as a process. Throughout, we The ability to leverage existing assets toward greater returns
use excerpts of our informants words to illustrate the findings. beyond the immediate time frame turned out to be a recurring
theme in how several informants viewed the transformation
from a survival business to a thriving business. The assets
referred to, could be diverse, whether the initial debt capital
Transformative Subsistence Entrepreneurship or the incremental profits in the initial years or intangible brand
In every interview, informants offered their personal view on reputation.
what constituted thriving in the marketplace, as opposed to Dhanam is another 34-year-old enthusiastic businesswoman
eking out a livelihood geared to subsistence and maintenance, and a mother of two. Dhanams narrative is even more intri-
and how to get there. The collage of views expressed on this guing as her business deals with a commodity, lemons, and is
matter coalesced to our central theme in this research trans- conducted in the context of grueling 20-hour workdays. She
formative subsistence entrepreneurship (TSE). We define this discusses how she and her husband leverage their brand rep-
as value-creating activity pursued by individuals living in utation even in a business not involving a brand name, steer
subsistence conditions that places them on a path toward (i) clear of some simple cognitive errors, and remain relentless and
self-enhancing business growth and significant positive disciplined in how they attend to each days business:
change in their personal agency in the economic realm, and
Dhanam: Before [earlier], my grandmother did [this business] and
(ii) enhancing the economic capacity of the community in
then my mother-in-law, and now we both are doing. So only
which they operate. It is important to note the definition
lemon business is going on [for many years], and we are very
implies the TSE process is pursued only by a subset of entre-
famous for our lemon business in this whole Ayanavaram [name
preneurs in subsistence, and to varying degrees within such a
of local area] market
subset. In the subsequent few paragraphs, we illustrate using Dhanam: During Pooja time [religious festive periods in a year]
quotes, how we induce the two key themes in the TSE defini- we will be happy thinking our business will go well, but here the
tion significant progress toward individual growth and that nearby shops all will start selling lemons because lemon is
of ones community. important for Ayudha pooja [hyper competition]. Merely hoping
that we will earn more in the Pooja season will lead us into dire
Individual dimension of transformative subsistence entrepreneurship. straits. So regularly we have to put shop [be open for business]
As illustrated in their own words, all our informants consider a and earn, because we cant earn extra during festive season.
significant improvement in business income important. For Dhanam: Any function here, they [other, neighboring shops] close
example, Godavari is a 34-year old businesswoman running a the shop and then attend, we dont do that, and any time we do
home-based business, micro-retailing saris in her neighbour- business. This sincerity has paid and we have grown now.
hood. She talks with pride how she started very modestly, buy-
Partha is a 40-year-old self-made businessman, running a
ing small-margin clothing items from wholesale merchants
teashop and simultaneously operating an informal money-
elsewhere in town and retailing them door-to-door in her neigh-
lending business. He echoes Dhanams view about the every-
borhood, and then graduated to high-margin clothing (e.g. the
day conduct of the business, and talks about the extent to which
sari, a traditional Indian female clothing item). She describes
his basic practices of thrift and saving have helped in his busi-
how she utilized her initial business capital obtained in the form
ness growth.
of debt (micro-loan from a micro-credit organization).
Partha: We will never leave the shop closed as we will miss cus-
Godavari: I got 10000 rupees to expand my business. I never used
tomer base and they will go off disappointed when closed, even
a penny of it for my kids education or other household needs.
for my wedding I lift just one day holiday and also my staff
I used the whole amount to buy saris and inner skirts and blouse
depend on my shop.
Partha: When my grandfather was working, he used to give me
She also recounts reinvesting existing current assets to grow some daily bata [allowance] and my relatives used to give to
her business, minimizing or foregoing personal expenses for me some money for pocket expenses. From young age I had the
the growth of the business. habit of saving money. From the work [his first job] also I started
saving and I had saved till 10,000 rupees.
Godavari: Now I am just taking [retailing] 10 to 15 saris [at a
time]. If I take my profit [use up for personal expenses], I cannot For these informants, a level of significant growth in busi-
expand [my business]. My customers are already asking me to ness income seems a result of the gradual accumulation of
procure better saris worth Rupees 600 or more. If I kept taking assets procured through unrelenting adherence to certain
portions of the profit for personal use, I am unable to buy such everyday business practices cost control through an inher-
better merchandise. If I invest the profits now in the business, ently thrifty system of values, leveraging existing assets and
later when I take [buy] 700 rupee sari that I will sell for 800, then conscientiously reducing debt, being extremely attentive to

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6 Journal of Macromarketing

every detail of business on an everyday basis, being polite with Natarajan: I worked for two years and my salary was the same.
customers and responsive in the extreme, and keeping tactics I told them I will leave the job, but they offered just 750 [rupees]
very simple. in return. I asked for 1250 rupees they refused, so I resigned.
However, mere growth in business income or product port-
folio is inadequate to capture the notion of transformation. For subsistence entrepreneurs, a felt sense of power in their
Income is but one factor along a path of personal ascent. While own initiative, acquiring a semblance of control of their
it is reasonable that without a significant quantum of income everyday circumstances and decisions, and an exercise of
improvement there can be no transformation, income alone their rights to express their opinion in matters relating to the
does not fully reveal the extent of transformation felt by indi- marketplace is a psychological marker of real upward mobi-
viduals in subsistence. It is nearly an axiom in modern poverty lity. This is consistent with insights from the development lit-
literature that poverty is multi-dimensional, context-specific, erature indicating the central importance of personal agency,
and cannot be solely expressed or measured in terms of dollar along with self-confidence and aspirations, in helping people
figures of income or consumption expenditure (Narayan 2009; move out of poverty (Narayan, Pritchett, and Kapoor 2009). It
Narayan, Pritchett, and Kapoor 2009; Sen 1993, 1999). Given is also consistent with the literature on market formation (Lin-
that poverty is not merely the lack of income, it stands to reason deman 2012), marketplace literacy, which is conceptualized
that transformative entrepreneurship in subsistence cannot be as skills, self-confidence, and awareness of rights (Viswa-
merely a substantial improvement in income. We now transi- nathan, Gajendiran, and Venkatesan 2008). In subsistence
tion to voices and views from a subset of our informants that marketplaces characterized by severe resource constraints,
indicate a much more complex reality; a reality where a growth uncertainty, and the low literacy and social power of market
in business income and assets eventually strengthen an individ- actors, an increase in ones personal agency can be transfor-
uals personal agency, i.e. achieving a semblance of power, mative for an entrepreneur. Parthas quote below illustrates
acquiring an ability to exercise ones rights, and perceiving this quite simply.
some control over everyday decisions (Narayan, Pritchett, and
Partha: I did my marriage on my own expenses and when turning
Kapoor 2009). back I can see the work I did without the help of my father and
For example, Partha recognizes an improvement in his posi- mother, staying in my grandpas house, and have come up so
tion of power in the community from his ability to employ peo- much in life like in small amount financing.
ple in his business.
Apparently, some subsistence entrepreneurs are able to
Partha: Now this business is 10 years old. . . . I had two assistants acquire a level of perceived control of their life circumstances
and their salary was 80 rupees per day and now it is 300 rupees and through substantial business and income growth and per-
per day and now I am capable of paying the 600 rupees [two peo- sonal agency, they get on a transformative path out of survival
ple] plus the shop rent. and maintenance and on to growth and thriving.

Partha also demonstrates his exercise of rights to express his

Community dimension of transformative subsistence entrepreneurship.
opinions in matters relating to the marketplace.
Informants also spoke about of making significant contribu-
tions to the communitys economic progress through the way
Partha: I dont have the habit of smoking, I just sell it [cigarettes] they do their business. This forms the second, community-
and many told me not to sell as its a bad product. The govern- focused, dimension of TSE as specified in our working defini-
ment should take the initiative to ban so that cigarette consump-
tion. Partha speaks of lending money to other entrepreneurs in
tion comes down. Some [competitors] dont have any ethics, and
need. Here, he cites the instance of lending the equivalent of
they sell whatever to any one, I dont sell [cigarettes] for school
more than twice his monthly net income toward another per-
students and boys below 18, I advise and send them away.
sons business.

Partha also discusses elements that reveal his perceived con- Partha: I gave to this tea stall ex-owner 50,000 rupees [to expand
trol over the circumstances of his business relative to working his business)
for others.
He, in fact, makes lending money into a business model on
its own. He speaks of an initial 10,000 rupees loan to a neigh-
Partha: . . . .after all the expenses, I can easily save 700 to 800
rupees. And if I also add extra breakfast and two more assistants
borhood entrepreneur, which he kept plowing back into further
we can easily earn 1000 per day. Rather than earning 30,000 loans to different local entrepreneurs until it grew 150-fold in a
rupees in a big company, the same we can earn here. dozen years.

Partha: Yes, that 10,000 rupees initial loan slowly grew by

This sentiment is echoed by Natarajans who, when per- repeated loans to all in need, in a span of 13 years to 150,000
ceived to be underappreciated by an employer resigns, begin- rupees. I always used it only to loan others, and did not touch any
ning a path to self-sufficiency. of it for my life expenses.

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Sridharan et al. 7

Celina discusses a more modest but innovative approach, to engage the bigger and more formal and non-subsistence-
where she helps the local community households invest in gold level players with their informal system.
by selling gold coins on extended credit.
Dhanam: . . . we sat and talked that we have to supply for all these
Celina: I would buy the coins first for 500 rupees. Then give juice shops [bigger ventures in nearby, modern malls] . . . used
them to people who want to buy these. They would in turn pay to talk to these juice owners about this, and asked them that if
me in installments of 50 rupees weekly or 20 rupees daily. The we regularly come and supply, are they ready [would they do
customers will get gold saving through an easy method of business?], they happily agreed and by word of mouth we started
installment, and I would also benefit. expanding shop by shop.
Sunder: Now we buy goods from Periyapalayam and Uthiramerur
Note that this is not her main business, but rather a sec- [other communities] and sell them. We get goods like plants,
ondary activity to her main trade of reselling kitchen and dolls, plates, flowers, idols of Lord Ganesha, small playing uten-
laundry appliances. In either Parthas or Celinas cases, the sils, etc.
propensity to lend funds to other productive actors in the
local community shows a deep concern for creating an eco- In summary, interpreting the views of our informants
system to enable entrepreneurial activity around them. reveals the twin dimensions of transformative subsistence
Although this can possibly be achieved merely through the entrepreneurship, both individual and community. The idea
ripples created by their core business, they go further and of this dual dimensionality is critical to label entrepreneurial
proactively help those around them. Another way they con- activity in subsistence contexts as transformative. Growing
tribute is through mentoring other entrepreneurs during their ones own economic condition is significant but does not cap-
early venture periods, or for that matter, their own small ture the whole picture of either the entrepreneurs comprehen-
workforce. Partha talks about mentoring the two employees sive personal progress in life or their contribution to the
who work for him. He displays a passion to share his economic mobility of the subsistence community as a whole.
method of success for the benefit of others who are at the The transformation to being both for oneself and others is a
start of the learning curve. Here he emphasizes the impor- central idea, and reflects a single entrepreneurs contributions
tance of thrift and saving. to creating an ecosystem of entrepreneurial activity in a subsis-
tence community. Having described the core phenomenon of
Partha: I also tell them how I had toiled hard to come to this posi- interest in the researcj, transformative subsistence entrepre-
tion during my first job, my salary was 10 rupees per day; in neurship, we now turn to discussing related factors of motiva-
addition, they will give 5 rupees for lunch expenses, which I will tion, ability, and opportunity. As we will explain subsequently
never eat and take the money home. My thinking was that, with in the section of model building, these factors must combine in
that 15 rupees, we [are] four in the family would eat happily that an entrepreneurs life to lead to the pathway of TSE.
evening [even within that I would save some amount]. Like this I
will compare my salary of 10 rupees . . . with their 300 rupee
salary and ask them to work hard.
Environmental Triggers
In fact, Parthas decision to employ his two assistants, in The data from our interviews suggest that a set of triggers ori-
itself reveals more nuance in how some subsistence entrepre- ginating from the immediate environment of the entrepreneur
neurs go about enhancing the communitys economic capacity. (e.g. family) often initiate a sequence of events placing them
on a path of TSE. Environmental triggers refer to events or
Partha: My aim [in running a business] is [also that] two families situations that potentially motivate subsistence entrepreneurs
can easily eat food if I employ them. to go beyond a maintenance cycle of survival toward one
of thriving and growth. For example, issues or tensions arising
Natarajan, a provision storeowner in his mid-30 s, also talks from within ones family, or from within the community can
about mentoring. His advice focuses on doing something you upset the balance of emotions within a person and relationships
know and being persistent in pursuit of goals. among persons.

Natarajan: I have advised so many youngsters to do the business Celina: I decided to sell utensils. I did not want to start it big rather
about which you know something; we have to work honestly and starts a small-scale business by selling aluminum utensils. . . . But
not be scared of hardship; if we know that profit is there in some- when I told people at home, they all started laughing at me.
thing, then work hard to achieve it.
Such change in emotions can either completely overwhelm
Such propensity to mentor and nurture younger, entrepre- a subsistence entrepreneur or act as a catalyst that puts her on a
neur aspirants directly enhances the communitys capability growth path. This is consistent with research in poverty con-
to rise economically. ducted across many countries, which shows that emotional
A last nuance we can point to from our interviews about a states and relationships can stimulate or discourage trust, initia-
community-referent dimension of TSE is an ability and drive tive, risk taking, and entrepreneurship (Narayan 2009, p. 72).

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8 Journal of Macromarketing

Partha (tea shop owner) speaks of an episode where he had up, so they object to our furnace [for firing earthen pots]. When
to part with all his savings to ensure that his sisters marriage we burn or heat the furnace they complain, so we had to stop.
was conducted without incident (because of an unexpected eco-
nomic emergency which threatened the familys social dig- Deprived of in-house making of earthen pots, Sunder found
nity). In Indian cultural practice, a central traditional norm is another way to supply his operation (of flower pots), and
for the parents or older male siblings of a woman to personally turned to importing them from other villages. Mary, an inde-
undertake to ensure the marriage event is an honorable and pendent businesswoman retailing saris, on the other hand,
happy one, and passes without incident. Despite being very decided to do something different from her earlier business
close to his sister and eventually proud of his efforts and con- of a provision shop, when a larger, formal store opened near
tribution, Partha noted with some frustration that he took on the her much smaller one.
central role in this obligation because his father did not.
Mary: We dont have much business in the provision shop as
Partha: My dad never worked after marrying my mom. My dad before, because there are many departmental stores now . . .
worked for one year and was into gambling and is still doing it. So it has become very difficult now. Because of this problem,
I started to do a new business of doing chamki work [embellish-
In fact, this frustration with his fathers lack of paternal sup- ing] for saris. [husband continues to run the provision shop].
port seems to run deep. He frequently speaks of his fathers When I started, it was very popular, but now bigger companies
vices drinking and gambling and remarks that he was deter- do this cheaper and sell in shops, so it affected my business. So
mined to negate such an influence on himself. This seems to now, I have started a sari business. This is running better to some
have been a big trigger in his dedication to growing through his extent.
Environmental triggers do not have to necessarily be nega-
Partha: I could have gone into bad habits as my father was doing tive. Some of our informants revealed that triggers could also
all the years before when I was young.v Instead, I saved a small have a positive valence. Celina talks of the surprising support
amount to see a big change in life. . . . my father was actually she received from her supplier during their first chance
working for [name of a very big company], but he was no good encounter.
in his habits, so my grandparents actually brought me up and
gave me basic education.
Celina: One day while traveling, I crossed a shop that had lots of
Venus cookers and aluminum vessels. I wanted to stop and
For Celina and Dhanam, a perceived deep disrespect from
inquire. I went in and inquired the rate of a non-stick tava [frying
family members who may be in higher material comfort also
pan]. He asked me how many I wanted! I was taken aback: why
became a significant motivational trigger. For Celina, one or
he is asking me the count? How did he know I have a plan of
two critical incidents served as the triggers; for Dhanam, it had doing a business of reselling these vessels? He then asked if
evidently been a long-running situation. I had prior experience in this business . . . he was ready to teach
me . . . he told me not to worry about money and said he will
Celina: I had to ask my brothers for help for my sons education. give me 1week time to pay. It is Gods gift to have started my
They helped me but started speaking at my back. I felt bad, as business there.
I never wanted to face such a situation. [Celina had a severe
asthmatic condition, which after being revealed, led to near-
ostracization from her family, in particular her older brothers]. In summary, chance life events or situations (many nega-
Dhanam: In my husbands family, his brother and sister are in tive, some positive) may prove to be initial triggers for a small
high-level bank jobs, and in the whole family, we are on the subset of subsistence entrepreneurs, to branch off into newer,
lower side. In this situation when we go to any family function, potentially transformative, trajectories in their life and enter-
we feel odd as they get a good welcome but we dont. They all prise. The notion of such environmental triggers is consistent
gather and talk fondly of family topics, while my husband gets with Banduras (1998) idea of fortuitous determinants of life
left out and always sent away on petty errands. paths, which he argues can set in motion constellations of
influences than can alter the course of lives (Bandura 1998,
Triggers to transformational aspirations could also come p. 95); and also with Shaperos (1975) idea of a precipitating
from the broader environment beyond the family. Sunder factor as a key ingredient of an entrepreneurial event. Of
explains how his business model of making clay pots became course, such chance life encounters may have little impact on
threatened because a large property developer (formal econ- a majority of subsistence entrepreneurs who may simply pro-
omy) decided to build new residential units near the place of duce minimal adaptations, if any, without altering the basic
his business essentially a sudden intrusion of the formal econ- direction of the course of their lives. Whereas all poor people
omy into the informal economy. frequently encounter events that make their current difficult sit-
uation even more difficult, the nature and scope of impact that
Sunder: We had some space earlier, but now a lot of buildings such events exert can vary considerably, and for some, be
have come up nearby. Many apartment buildings have come transformative.

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Sridharan et al. 9

Entrepreneurial Qualities to entrepreneurial action despite intent. While most people

in subsistence economies have to be resilient merely to sur-
Entrepreneurial qualities relate to knowledge structures, traits,
vive some subsistence entrepreneurs appear to do so with a
and social competencies that enable individuals to respond
firm view to long-term improvement, reflecting an ability to
effectively to motivational cues in environmental triggers.
envision a future beyond their immediate travails.
Many qualities discussed centrally in literature on entrepre-
neurship in general, are evident in subsistence contexts as well. Dhanam: If I toil hard with my husband, then only we can come
For instance, Partha exemplifies entrepreneurial spirit a ten- out of the present financial problem and come up in life. I feel
dency to be sensitive to new economic opportunities (Shane, my kids should come up in life and our social situation should
Locke, and Collins 2003). Parthas original business was improve. We always have to be in shop. We take this all in
money lending, but at one point he recognized an opportunity smiling because then only my kids will study well and come
to branch out. up in life.

Partha: I had once loaned the former owner of this tea stall 50,000 An important entrepreneurial quality is to engage in rela-
rupees. He was a Keralite [from an adjacent state], and since he tively abstract thinking as opposed to the concrete thinking
had just married off his children, he wanted to return to Kerala to shown to be commonly associated with low income and lit-
settle back there. So he wanted to sell his shop, and I also
eracy (Viswanathan and Rosa 2007). The ability to leverage
thought why not try a new business? He quoted 150,000 rupees,
existing assets toward greater returns noted earlier is an exam-
and since he already owed me 50,000, I gave him 100,000
ple of an abstract thinking quality. This is consistent with stud-
rupees and bought out his business.
ies showing that know-why forms of marketplace literacy,
Ragini provides some insight into her level of management that is, conceptual and strategic knowledge of the marketplace,
acumen an ability to link ones assessment of the external enables better adaptation to changing circumstances than
business landscape with an awareness of how money can be know-how literacy with its procedural and tactical emphasis
made (Charan 2006). As with many subsistence entrepreneurs, (Viswanathan, Gajendiran, and Venkatesan 2008). Such know-
because many of her customers are also poor, she faces a prob- why facilitates adaptation to changing circumstances, reflected
lem in ensuring that they actually will pay her. In the quote in the practices of a number of our informants. For instance, the
below, she solves this by creatively segmenting her market. ability to leverage existing assets toward greater returns beyond
the immediate time frame was a recurrent theme in how our
Ragini: If they are coming from some other location and stay in informants viewed the state of transformation from a survival
this community for rent, then I would give them one blouse and to a thriving business.
check if they are prompt in paying the money; because if they Another relevant entrepreneurial quality evident from our
vacate the house and go away I cant go behind them, right? data is a degree of social competence an ability to build
strong, productive relationships with other members of the
Natarajan finds a way to take a commodity water and local marketplace. Again, social competence is a key trait for
add value in a way that differentiates him from the other water entrepreneurship in general (Baron and Markman 2003), and
sellers in the area. is as relevant, and perhaps more crucial, in the subsistence
context given its resource-poor but network-rich character
Natarajan: I just will sell [water] in my street and the adjacent one, (Viswanathan et al. 2012). In the following quote, Celina
as they are my customers through this provision store [different
shows a strong sense of being able to adapt to a new social sit-
business]. If they call for water outside, it may take time, but if
uation as she tries to build a new customer base through her
they call me I will instantly deliver, as I am right there.
social connections.
Overall, entrepreneurial spirit and management acumen
Celina: My friend took me to Moolakadai [the local market hub]
enable individuals to connect the dots in a way that turns
and introduced me to everyone. I had never been in such a situ-
opportunities into businesses. Subsistence contexts reveal evi-
ation before [new social environment], but I adapted quickly.
dence and individual variation in these qualities, just as we I realized that I would be able to provide clients there with small
might find in non-subsistence contexts as chronicled in the kitchen items.
entrepreneurship literature (Shane, Locke, and Collins 2003).
Perhaps more unique to subsistence contexts is the quality Dhanam and her husband demonstrate an impression man-
of aspirational resilience the mindset of wanting to signifi- agement ability that helps them to relate very well to their reg-
cantly improve ones lot in life and persisting in the face of ular supplier.
tremendous personal adversity. Organizational resilience has
been examined in the entrepreneurship literature as a mechan- Dhanam: My husband would explain that the fruit was not good,
ism by which an organization looks beyond troubled times so he had to get from the next shop [an explanation for a one-
and considers further entrepreneurial opportunities (Dewald time defection event], and then he [the regular supplier] would
and Bowen 2010). However, the subsistence context is one reassure us of good lemons the following day . . . Since the sup-
where substantial existential difficulties can act as barriers plier has faith that we will buy the lemons from him regularly, he

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10 Journal of Macromarketing

will give us the merchandise at normal price straightaway with- Dhanam illustrates the propensity to keep growing ones
out making us participate in an auction [the mechanism used for current business, whereas Sunder illustrates the propensity to
all non-relational transactions]. adapt to constraints and grow in new directions (and Partha
above reveals an opportunity-driven diversification approach
Elsewhere in our interviews, informants narrated incidents to growth).
that illustrate their ability to form accurate perceptions of oth-
ers in their environment (social perception), express their emo- Dhanam: Earlier, my grandmother did this business [selling lem-
ons], then my mother-in-law continued it, and now my husband
tions and feelings in the right way that strikes a chord in others
and I are carrying it on. So lemon is our core business for gen-
(expressiveness), and be persuasive. These aspects of social
erations, and we are very famous for our lemons in this whole
competence are indicative of personal strengths both necessary
Ayanavaram market. So this is one reason not to expand our
in and facilitated by a highly social and networked marketplace business in new ways.
environment (Viswanathan, Rosa, and Ruth 2010), and gives Sunder: I was doing a car wash business. My service was good and
entrepreneurs an ability to generate useful resources from ven- business was also going well. But there was a lack of space [only
dors, family members, and other potential business partners. 500 sq.ft.]. Within that area I was not able to carry on my busi-
In summary, our interviews revealed several entrepreneurial ness, and we didnt have any other facility. So I closed the busi-
qualities, which represent the sphere of personal ability that an ness. Then I took over the plant business [his parents had].
individual could bring to the table, to act upon the motivational
stimuli presented by environmental triggers. Rather than com- Partha illustrates his competitive differentiation strategy (in
pile an exhaustive listing, we have highlighted some qualities running a tea shop), which is heavily oriented toward an
that have central resonance in any entrepreneurial context, as empathic form of customer service.
well as those that carry special relevance in a subsistence con-
text. We could see that these qualities were present in varying Partha: We have good reputation and also the former owner
degrees across our individual informants. Our view is that never had so many customers like me. I am here for the past
when plentiful, these entrepreneurial qualities can enable indi- 25 years and I am very friendly with these people; any problem
in their house I will be the first person to stand for them. The
viduals to respond effectively to chance life encounters and get
hospitality we extend to our customers makes them recom-
on a TSE path, as we explain in a later section.
mend me to their friends; we give good respect and we will not
make them angry in any instance, and we will never leave the
shop closed as we will miss customer base and they will go off
Enterprise Model disappointed when closed.

Whereas an individuals entrepreneurial qualities and the envi- Natarajan reveals a product-driven nuance to his differentia-
ronmental triggers may combine to shape their motivation and tion strategy in the business of selling 25 litre bubbles (large
ability to pursue business and life paths that reflect a very dif- bottles) of water.
ferent course to their existing circumstances, the actual oppor-
tunity for such a new direction to become transformative is Natarajan: Customers perceive different tastes of water when it
shaped by the nature of business decisions they make in run- comes from different lands; my customers are quite used to this
ning their enterprise. In our interviews, we explored the enter- one taste and therefore I ensure that I do not change the brand.
prise models of our informants their approach toward funding Other suppliers are not that careful. Long time users will easily
the business, growth strategies, and differentiation strategies find the taste difference.
(Morris, Schindehutte, and Allen 2005).
Natarajans approach toward funding his provision store Sunder highlights a price-based differentiation strategy in
enterprise is essentially one of small, thrifty practices leading his flower pot business.
to a social, informal form of debt (without collateral or inter- Sunder: We dont want to lose our regular customer, so we let
est), which can be paid back in small installments, whereas them negotiate the rates down a bit. If we charge 15 rupees for
Partha takes a bolder approach, bolstered by the capital a new buyer, for example, we might give it to a regular customer
afforded by his money-lending business. for 10 rupees if they bargain.

Natarajan: I will put the income I get through my milk business in Hence, the interview data support the existence of nuance
chit funds; if I put in small amount monthly for 20 months, then I and individual variation in the three classic business model ele-
can take out a big amount when most needed in an auction of the ments funding approach (which in this context, approximates
chit fund; through that I got 70,000 rupees once, and used this to to ones approach toward debt reduction), growth approach,
arrange the money [to operate the enterprise efficiently]. and differentiation approach (Morris, Schindehutte, and Allen
Partha: I had once loaned the former owner of this tea stall 50,000 2005). Related to the entrepreneurial quality of abstract think-
rupees. . . . He quoted 150,000 rupees [to buy his business], and ing, a subsistence entrepreneurs enterprise model can reflect
since he already owed me 50,000, I gave him 100, 000 rupees levels of thinking either rooted in the here-and-now or
and bought out his business. forward-looking. The latter facet involves envisioning beyond

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Sridharan et al. 11

the immediate, whether in terms of the time frame of the enter- conditions under all circumstances. Rather, the efficacy of
prise (future thinking) or the geographical scope of the value achieving entrepreneurial activity leading up to a TSE level can
chain (thinking beyond ones own community). It can enable suffer because of the lack of any one factor. Similarly, the com-
long-term-oriented adaptive (and thriving) strategies rather bined existence of all factors may still prove insufficient for
than short-term-oriented coping (and surviving) strategies. This TSE outcomes if truly overwhelming shocks to the system
envisioning notion finds support in emerging discussions in occur. Such is the overall fragile economics of a subsistence
psychology (see Atance and ONeill 2001, for a discussion of marketplace ecosystem.
episodic future thinking). For the four informants quoted just
above, envisioning was evident in their enterprise model, an
Transformative Subsistence Entrepreneurship in a
ingredient that substantially increases the opportunity for their
businesses to take on transformative dimensions. Systems Framework
A second theoretical notion is to situate the TSE phenomenon
Summary of Insights from Data in the conceptual framework of a system. As the TSE process
helps create and share product and service assortments among
To summarize to this point, we have described our central other subsistence economy participants in a market exchange
phenomenon of interest, transformative subsistence entrepre- setting, from a macromarketing perspective, the choice of a
neurship (TSE), and discussed three formative factors of envi- systems framework is logical (Layton 2007). Further, the sub-
ronmental triggers, entrepreneurial qualities, and enterprise sistence marketplaces literature offers a recent system portrayal
models, each with illustrative examples. These aspects pro- of subsistence entrepreneurship, which therefore gives us a nat-
vide insights into how some entrepreneurs living in subsis- ural starting point (Viswanathan, Rosa, and Ruth 2010).
tence move beyond survival and maintenance to a path of
thriving and transformation that both affects them and the Subsistence market systems: The closed loop perspective. Viswa-
communities around them positively. We now develop a nathan, Rosa, and Ruth (2010) conceptualize subsistence mar-
model showing the emergence of transformative subsistence ketplaces as consisting of microenterprises run by subsistence
entrepreneurship. consumermerchants (SCMs) consumers providing for
themselves and their nuclear families while also managing a
very small business generating consumption-augmenting
Interpretation and Construction of a income (we use the terms subsistence entrepreneurs and SCMs
Theoretical Model interchangeably). These SCMs operate as the hub of a self-
The core phenomenon of interest in this research, TSE, is a sustaining system of relationships among subsystems of ven-
form of entrepreneurship that entails significant progress dors, customers and family members.
toward personal and community well-being. In order for a sub- They survive the immediate term by managing relationships
sistence entrepreneur to achieve such a tall order in the face of within and across these three subsystems, thus achieving a flow
sustained economic hardship, it is useful to suggest that ability, of resources into and out of each subsystem. Such effort
motivation, and opportunity are all important corridors of influ- employs various dimensions of relationship commitment
ence. Based on the insights from our data, this is also the first affective (want to be in this relationship), continuance (need
theoretical integration we make. to), and normative (ought to). The system is conceptualized
as closed. It is described as self-regulating or self-
sustaining, referring to the presence of positive (reinforcing)
Triggers, Qualities, and Models: Tripartite Influence
and negative (balancing) feedback loops that keep activities
toward Transformative Subsistence Entrepreneurship in check so that the overall system remains viable. In being
In essence, we suggest that environmental triggers such as fam- so, the system helps the SCMs run a viable business at an
ily undermining (negative) or supplier nurturance (positive) everyday level, and facilitates some surplus income to help
throw up new motivations toward unexpected directions in life, meet the sudden or somewhat longer-term needs of ones fam-
and open up an initial path toward TSE. If people have an abun- ily. In Figure 1, we produce a simplified, adapted version of
dance of entrepreneurial qualities, such as entrepreneurial their model to aid our discussion.
spirit, management acumen, aspirational resilience, social The notion of intricate relationships between the subsistence
competence, and, abstract thinking, they can act on the motiva- entrepreneur and her family, vendor and customer subsystems
tions so triggered, and stay on the TSE path (ability). Impor- resonates with the expressions of our informants, who also hail
tantly, if peoples enterprise model is characterized by from similar communities. As such, the model offers the foun-
adaptive approaches to funding, growth and differentiation, and dation we build on. However, the data from our interviews
envisioning beyond the immediate, they give themselves the point to a few avenues of addition or departure, which we now
most opportunity to arrive at the cusp of TSE. In this manner explain.
of motivation-ability-opportunity, these sets of factors can
combine to set in motion transformative subsistence entrepre- Adding the community subsystem. Based on our data, one key
neurship. This does not mean that all three are necessary addition we make to the Viswanathan, Rosa, and Ruth (2010)

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12 Journal of Macromarketing

nature of system specification. As just mentioned, the existing

model contains a closed loop characterization. The counter-
Customer Vendor acting positive and negative feedback loops push the system
Subsystem Subsystem towards equilibrium; once this is reached, the capacity of the
system is conceptualized as fixed. This may be appropriate for
typical subsistence entrepreneurship that is focused on sur-
vival and maintenance. Clearly, such a level was also
reflected in our sample, in people at or near the first inflection
point discussed above.
However, this view does not fully explain the more dynamic
TSE elements that we could detect in some of our informants at
Family and beyond the second and third inflection points, that is,
Subsystem achieving personal agency beyond just income growth, as well
as community well-being and growth. Hence, we build upon
Viswanathan, Rosa, and Ruth (2010) and present an open sys-
tems model of transformative subsistence entrepreneurship
Posive and negave feedback loops of normave,
(see Figure 2). An open system does not assume inputs and out-
aecve, and connuance commitment keeping
the relaonships across subsystems in balance
puts (such as commitments and obligations) will be carefully
balanced within the system, and allows the inclusion of unba-
lanced system components (such as triggers and aspirations).
Figure 1. Closed loop system of ordinary subsistence entrepre-
neurship: A simplified representation adapted from Viswanathan,
See Kast and Rosenzweig (1972) for a discussion. We now
Rosa, and Ruth (2010). explain the functioning of this system.

model is the introduction of a fourth important subsystem the Environmental triggers. Beginning the Disruption. Recalling our
community subsystem (see Figure 2). As described earlier earlier point that critical incidents or situations occurring in life
when defining the TSE phenomenon, some of our informants can act as triggers, we start by suggesting that such environ-
explicitly leverage their ongoing accumulation of tangible mental triggers, defined previously, can begin to disrupt the
resources in service of the subsistence community. A common equilibrium conceptualized in the closed-loop model. Triggers,
method is to loan money to other budding entrepreneurs. More when they occur and especially the negative ones, either impair
intangibly, but perhaps more importantly, some share with oth- the ability of the entrepreneur to meet the basic survival needs
ers, their own paths to success in a mentoring capacity. There of her family, or spur them to take bigger risks to try and move
may be still other avenues of community contribution. Overall, beyond survival. In either case, the delicate self-regulating bal-
this community-focused dimension of entrepreneurial behavior ance of positive and negative feedback loops in a system will
presents a genuine concern for those beyond ones family sub- be disrupted (see Figure 2). Fathima and Selvi illustrate:
system. It helps to increase the capacity of the community as a
subsystem (and ultimately the overall subsistence market- Fathima: My husband went overseas looking for opportunity, but
place), to grow organically in a meaningful way. We suggest he was duped by his migration agent, and lost two lakh rupees
that this is one key factor differentiating those subsistence [200,000, which is more than life savings]. That is why I started
entrepreneurs on a SCM path from those on a TSE path. this business, because we simply could not survive otherwise.
When we look back at our sample, compiled initially to Selvi: If he [her husband] gives me the entire money what he
represent entrepreneurs who were no longer merely subsist- earns, we can improve [our life] more than this, but he gives
ing, we can detect three inflection points: (1) entrepreneurs me only half of what he earns; the other half he wastes on
who showed only growth in their incomes; (2) those who
showed income growth and also much progress in personal These are examples of situations that all subsistence entre-
agency discussed earlier; and (3) those who showed not only preneurs face as part and parcel of subsistence living. But the
such comprehensive personal progress but also significant propensity to respond in specific ways will vary across individ-
contributions to community progress (see in Figure 2). This uals. When the trigger occurs, and if one doesnt do something
last category, and arguably closest to a TSE level from our about it, then it can turn into a downward spiral large enough to
definition, forms the bedrock of the addition of the commu- disrupt the delicate balance of commitments that were hypothe-
nity subsystem to the model. The entrepreneurs Partha, sized in the closed-loop model.
Natarajan, Celina, Sunder, and Dhanam best reflect this However, if one views the precipitating event as causing
dimension in our data. enormous displacement and ends up doing something about it
(Shapero 1975), then the changed actions of the entrepreneur
Switching to an open systems interpretation. A second change we will cause the disruption. For example, Dhanam discussed how
make to the Viswanathan, Rosa, and Ruth (2010) model is the she and her husband at one point decided they were not going

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Sridharan et al. 13

Customer Vendor
Subsystem Subsystem

Toward Individual
well-being Enterprise Model Environmental Toward Community
(EM) Triggers (ET) well-being
Income Growth
Improved Power Entrepreneurial Lending money
Everyday Control Qualies (EQ) Mentoring
Enhanced Rights
Formal Econ Ties

Family Community
Subsystem Subsystem

Balancing feedback loops of commitment across subsystems

Disrupon of balancing loops by ET, EQ, & EM

Note: ET begins the disrupon, EQ deepens it, and EM completes it

Figure 2. Open system of transformative subsistence entrepreneurship.

to seek out their extended family for resources or support any- As such qualities become available and deployed in respond-
more. Their extended family had moved beyond subsistence ing to a trigger situation, a subsistence entrepreneur will more
and was no longer committed to the entrepreneurs nuclear likely attract supportive mentoring attention from more experi-
family unit, and routinely scoffed at Dhanams circumstances. enced and higher income vendors or customers in the commu-
Here, we interpret that the normative family commitment, nity. We earlier cited an example of Celina, who had a
which was an important balancing force in the closed-loop fortuitous meeting with a prospective (higher income) vendor
model, has become impaired, thereby beginning to destabilize that launched her on a new life trajectory of entrepreneurship.
the system. In sum, environmental triggers act as shocks to While the happenstance meeting itself was an environmental
ones enterprise, and the entrepreneurs response can disrupt trigger, the vendor, impressed by her entrepreneurial qualities
the survival and maintenance loop of balancing forces. Thus, went on to offer sustained mentorship.
the initial starting point of the open systems model is the set
of environmental triggers. The triggers may often be negative Celina: He asked [in the first meeting] if I had prior experience in
events, although not necessarily so. this business; I told him no and that I have just a plan and deter-
mination. He was ready to teach me. He said if I start with items
worth 400 rupees, I would find it difficult to sell, so rather start
Entrepreneurial qualities: Continuing the disruption. Whereas envi- with a low budget. Initially he gave me two items for 150 rupees
ronmental triggers may provide a powerful starting point, the each and asked me to sell them and return. I sold them success-
potential for the equilibrium disruption to be perpetuated is fully. After seeing this only, he was ready to sell goods to me at
contingent on a subsistence entrepreneur producing sustained wholesale rate. He also told me not to worry about money and
adaptations to the trigger situation, enabled by her underlying said he will give me 1 weeks time to pay. I told him my family
entrepreneurial qualities. We described earlier how both gen- situation made me do this.
eric entrepreneurial qualities, such as being alert to new oppor-
tunities and possessing keen management acumen, and Celina was a new entrepreneur at the time of meeting this
qualities uniquely useful in subsistence contexts, such as vendor, but for existing entrepreneurs, a switch to supportive,
aspirational resilience, social competence and abstract think- higher income suppliers, made possible by their qualities, can
ing, enable the path toward TSE. go on to disrupt the continuance and normative commitments

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14 Journal of Macromarketing

with their existing neighborhood vendors. In other words, the up constantly pushing out the boundaries of the system in
disruption to the system equilibrium caused by environmental which an entrepreneur operates.
triggers can deepen. Further, having been thus mentored, it is In summary, as an eventual transformative subsistence
highly likely Celina will go on to similarly mentor other entrepreneur, Natarajan was able to detect and act on overall
entrepreneurs in the community, thus bringing into focus a market growth directions rather than merely react and balance
community-referent contribution, and adding a transformative various proximal pressures. Such emphasis on future growth
dimension to a normal subsistence entrepreneurial process. and differentiation, promotes enterprise actions that reflect an
ability to envision the future, and by their ambitious nature,
Enterprise model: Completing the disruption. Finally, further along go against the grain of delicately balancing mutual commit-
the curve, as a subsistence entrepreneur adopts a different set of ment loops of a closed-loop system. This does not occur in all
strategies in her enterprise model that are more abstract and subsistence enterprises. As we alluded to earlier, even in our
foresee beyond the immediate situation, the resulting move- own sample consisting only of entrepreneurs who were no lon-
ment beyond her 24-hour business cycles essentially completes ger existentially struggling, several of our informants appeared
the pattern of disruption to the closed-loop system. to stop at a point of achieving stability. They were highly
Natarajan moved through a sequence of initially earning by focused on gaining home ownership, achieving education for
carrying passengers in an auto rickshaw he owned, next adding their children, and retiring a substantial initial debt in order
a milk distribution business, then transitioning to it full time to feel more secure. They were largely interested in the welfare
with increasing revenues, and finally buying and operating a and stability of the family subsystem, and worked hard in the
provision store as well. In the context of the auto rickshaw busi- domains of customer and vendor subsystems to achieve this
ness, he saw an opportunity to leverage his vehicle asset differ- goal. Thus, they more clearly adhered to the depiction in Vis-
ently by storing and transporting milk rather than passengers, wanathan, Rosa, and Ruth (2010).
and thus adapted and customized it, removing seats and adding
support boards. This was likely risky in the short term but cre-
ated the opportunity for a more secure future in the long term,
by transitioning to a more remunerative business. For him,
remaining in business was the key, not remaining in a In this article, we have attempted to achieve synergy between
business. His future thinking enabled long-term-oriented adap- the insights of the emerging stream of subsistence marketplaces
tive strategies. research and the more longstanding macromarketing perspec-
In the context of the milk business, Natarajan typically tive, which offers the useful analytical framework of sys-
started his day at 2:00 am collecting milk wholesale (non- tems to study marketing action. We have offered the
existent in his previous auto context), and maintained a pattern concept of transformative subsistence entrepreneurship (TSE)
of doing door-to-door delivery in one neighborhood and as a fresh way of looking at marketing value created by a subset
switching to a roadside shop front in another neighborhood, all of enterprising individuals in subsistence communities.
dictated by different customer segments (e.g. small tea shop We have highlighted that those entrepreneurs on a TSE path
owners needing milk during extremely busy morning hours experience far more than just economic progress and also lift
vs. residential customers happy to procure milk on the way their communities with them. Next, we have described three
back from morning walks). His operating model ensured he formative processes toward TSE that together comprise the
was there to deliver milk to his customers even on days of mon- effects of environmental triggers (often leading to motivation),
soonal rains in knee-deep water . He earned his customers entrepreneurial qualities (which map on to abilities), and enter-
respect, as well as earn a larger slice of the pie when the domi- prise models (which relate to how opportunities are exploited);
nant government-owned brand of milk experienced a severe and specified that a combinatory configuration of these
supply shortage. three things create the conditions for ascent on to a TSE
Such commitment toward customers at large and as well as level. Finally, we have situated the TSE concept in a sys-
a drive to seek opportunities while jostling with formal econ- tems framework. We have adopted and further built on a rel-
omy competition serve to establish deep respect for an entre- evant recent effort at system specification in subsistence
preneur by the community as a whole. This becomes a net new contexts (Viswanathan, Rosa, and Ruth 2010), and positioned
level of resource in the system previously unavailable, and the entrepreneur tending toward TSE as the hub of a set of
unbalances the family-customer-vendor system of balanced four subsystems customer, vendor, family, and community.
feedback loops (in a positive and growth sense). In his provi- Aided by triggers from some subsystems (e.g., family and ven-
sion store business, he was quick to detect latent demand, and dor), a transformative subsistence entrepreneur is motivated to
sequentially added new lines of business beyond basic gro- move beyond subsistence to build a stronger enterprise model
ceries and provisions including 25-litre water bottles and and, as a result, over time achieves some stability (e.g., home
freshly made batter for idlis and dosas (traditional South ownership, purchase of productive assets) and greater opportu-
Indian breakfast crepes and savory cakes), unfamiliar lines of nity for children. But they spread their influence beyond the
business to typical subsistence enterprises. These initiatives family, vendor and customer subsystems to a broader commu-
help perpetuate newfound resources (e.g. respect) and end nity subsystem. This influence gives them the ability to

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Sridharan et al. 15

leverage their success and connections to generate organic develop new capabilities in subsistence entrepreneurs, that is, the
growth of the overall system. seller side of the exchange dyad. Second, TCR acknowledges that
achieving individual and collective dimensions of well-being
simultaneously is a significant challenge needing examination
Implications for Theory and Research (Kozinets, Belz, and McDonagh 2012). This study, with its explo-
Subsistence and macromarketing research. We set out to integrate ration of individual and community dimensions of TSE, heeds
subsistence marketplace and macromarketing theoretical per- this call. Further, Blocker et al. (2013) observe that achieving
spectives. We have done so by offering detail and nuance from transformative aims for impoverished consumers will require
the vantage point of entrepreneurs in subsistence marketplaces, acknowledgment of their creativity and resilience. The solutions
and abstracting from the data to a conceptual level through our explored in this paper reflect this mindset and hence stand to assist
open systems model. Throughout the paper, we have clearly TCR scholars similarly seeking to examine consumer-level phe-
situated our work within the subsistence stream and showed nomena in subsistence contexts.
specific layers of new insight being added to that body of
knowledge. We also note that the work also centrally adheres Other strands of transformative entrepreneurship research in poverty.
to macromarketing scholarship, which has been an early tradi- Emerging work in entrepreneurship has indeed noted the divide
tion within the history of the academic discipline of marketing, between subsistence and transformative forms of entrepreneur-
of using detailed and/or humanistic empirical observations of ship in an economy (Schoar 2010). However, in this work, the
impoverished environments to build theory (e.g. Slater 1965). label transformative is presented as the antithesis of operat-
We have offered an open systems perspective of the central ing in or near poverty and, in fact, policy makers in emerging
phenomenon. For example, the environmental triggers we have markets are explicitly cautioned to avoid assuming the emer-
identified represent an unbalanced system component that gence of transformative entrepreneurs from the pool of subsis-
needed to be explained. Being disrespected or ostracized by tence entrepreneurs. In other words, transformative
ones family is an unending source of social tension. Respond- entrepreneurship is assumed to occur in a different slice of eco-
ing to these can be done either by cycling through a stable, nomic segment other than the impoverished. Our work, by
closed system of maintenance, as SCMs might do, or disrup- demonstrating transformative entrepreneurship within subsis-
tively innovating and reshaping system dynamics, as TSEs tence segments, offers a different and complementary view.
might do. The first system produces equilibrium solutions that Our work is further distinct from that of economists in the sense
are time-independent and produced by stable trajectories (von that it is not just about economics (income growth and job gen-
Bertalanffy 1972). The second system suggests that the trajec- eration), and encompasses growth in local market capabilities
tory of subsistence entrepreneurship over time can produce where TSEs mentor others and help improve others capabil-
divergent solutions and not just equilibrium ones (von ities, and in the process, accumulate embedded, intangible
Bertalanffy 1972). This provides insight into a pathway out assets of knowledge, influence, and respect.
of poverty. For example, it can be argued that TSEs present In a different vein, Tobias, Mair, and Barbosa-Leiker (2013)
an attractive proposition to external formal economy actors see transformative entrepreneuring as a process that unfolds
seeking local partnerships. Their market knowledge and per- in society through the actions of many actors, with the ultimate
sonal agency represent embedded and often intangible outcomes of poverty reduction and social conflict resolution
resources, which can complement the traditional resources (based on a study in post-conflict Rwanda). Their work positions
brought to bear by formal enterprises. As such, TSEs can act policy makers and traditionally larger, non-poor entrepreneurs
as market agents acting and negotiating for the community in as the ones who create entrepreneurial opportunities in the face
a way that would maximize resources important for the growth of socio-economic constraints (thus top down); positions ordi-
of the system. In this manner, our ideas entwine the phenomena nary entrepreneurs as those who make use of such opportuni-
of subsistence marketplaces more tightly with the possibilities ties; and characterizes the sum total of this process (at a
offered by the systems perspective and thusf should serve as a collective level) as transformative entrepreneuring. In contrast,
platform for future systems studies of subsistence phenomena. in our work, transformative entrepreneuring is an individual
level phenomenon that exerts bottom up influence. Thus, future
Transformative consumer research. We also note that our study of work should integrate these multiple vantage points in studying
transformative subsistence entrepreneurship is quite consistent a transformative element in entrepreneurship amidst poverty.
with the tenets of a dynamic but diffuse collection of emerging
scholarship that commonly answers to a core normative goal of
improving consumer well-being transformative consumer
Implications for Policy and Practice
research (Mick et al. 2012). A core quality of transformative con- Informal economy: Marginal sector vs. vibrant entrepreneurial
sumer research (TCR) is to develop insights that directly translate ecosystem. Developing economies contain large segments of
into new capabilities and behaviors of consumers that support impoverished markets represented heavily in regions such as
their well-being (Mick et al. 2012). This study, although it focuses South America, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Many social dis-
on the entrepreneurial actors, answers this description. Our ciplines have traditionally studied economic activity conducted
insights of a potentially transformative business path can help in these contexts as a marginal sector, assumed to only consist

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16 Journal of Macromarketing

of petty traders and producers (Castells and Portes 1989) and a open system with synergized activities between external enti-
surplus of cheap, casual labor (Chen, Jhabvala, and Lund ties and players within the system. They have deep knowledge
2002). The implication is that the sector remains at the margins about their communities and norms, particularly as they relate
of an economy; its people are vulnerable and mired in chronic to potential tensions between individual and community
poverty; and hence public institutions must respond by develop- growth. Understanding and fostering transformative subsis-
ing social protection and job creation policies. tence entrepreneurship can thus potentially overcome the
Indeed two of Indias most recent and prominent public ongoing struggles of micro-credit. This is consistent with
policies, the Food Security Bill of 2013 and the Mahatma bottom-up empowerment and mobility-out-of-poverty perspec-
Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of 2005, tives (Narayan 2009; Viswanathan and Rosa 2007), implying
are examples of this stance. Given the sad reality of chronic that the imposition of external or global market methods is not
poverty for many, the enormous importance of such platforms optimal.
cannot be discounted. However, marketing theorists have
shown that much creation and exchange of value occur in Enriching the entrepreneurial informal economy: Bottom-up agency
these contexts through vibrant entrepreneurial enterprise through education. How specifically can transformative subsis-
models (Viswanathan, Rosa, and Ruth 2010). Large numbers tence entrepreneurship be facilitated? Our discussion of entre-
of subsistence entrepreneurs operate tiny micro enterprises, preneurial qualities suggests that entrepreneurial education
and play a critical marketing role in their communities, sen- might provide an answer, both in formal school curricula as
sing and satisfying consumer needs, and achieving a mechan- well as non-formal adult education.
ism of survival for themselves (Viswanathan et al. 2014). In Viswanathan, Gajendiran, and Venkatesan (2008) discuss
other words, it is a dynamic marketplace where people are their marketplace literacy program as a case in point. Run by
constantly trying to move out of poverty using their own ini- the NGO Marketplace Literacy Project in contexts similar to
tiative (Narayan, Pritchett, and Kapoor 2009). our study in Chennai, the program recruits actual and would-
We have strengthened this marketing perspective by pre- be entrepreneurs in a five-day training workshop. This edu-
senting insights from a small, unique sub-segment of entrepre- cation has been shown to enable the overcoming of specific
neurs in subsistence on the verge of escaping poverty or have cognitive biases arising from being low-literate and poor, such
just escaped it. They thrive and grow beyond survival, achieve as concrete thinking and pictographic thinking. Such programs
considerable respect and agency, and even transform their can encourage subsistence entrepreneurs to think beyond the
communities. This transformation is essential to understand for immediate temporally (leading to savings, reinvestment, and
policy makers. Although representing a small part of the entre- growth) or spatially (value chains involving buying and selling
preneurial population in poverty, such TSEs may hold the key in geographically dispersed ways). For some participants, the
to the disruptive development of subsistence marketplaces. program may foster these tendencies newly as they may be
Public policies that promote the development of TSEs can engaging in exchange in intuitive and concrete ways. For others
ensure effective interplay between formal and informal econ- with innate entrepreneurial qualities, the program may serve as
omy sectors, which is an acknowledged priority area in eco- a local, social setting that draws out their own awareness of
nomic policy work (Harris-White 2004). This is also those qualities. It would be, however, important that such edu-
important for private sector initiatives, as little marketing the- cational programs are developed from the bottom up, remain
ory guides the managerial efforts of modern, formal economy, grounded in the day-today realities of subsistence entrepre-
global or local marketers that are specifically seeking to engage neurs, and aim for nurturance of the community subsystem
with the productive players in subsistence marketplaces (Webb identified in our model. Any of government, social, or private
et al. 2010). business broadly united in the effort to achieve empowerment
We have specifically shown the entrepreneurial triggers, of impoverished communities could champion it.
entrepreneurial qualities and enterprise models that influence Another dimension to marketplace education is that those
the TSE process. Accordingly, public and private institutions approaching a TSE level of entrepreneurship are then ideal can-
can seek to augment the opportunity structures facing potential didates to educate others in the community, given their social
TSEs. They can do little about precipitating trigger events but competence and deep understanding of their communities. In
they can certainly unblock skewed opportunity structures that particular, they can share with others their grasp of the abstract
thwart poor peoples initiatives (Narayan, Pritchett, and notion of why they are in business, rather than mere business
Kapoor 2009, p. 30). For instance, although micro-credit pro- know-how. Identifying such entrepreneurs to serve as examples
grams initially gained much favor in developing countries for and even lead educational programs is a program design aspect
their supposed encouragement of entrepreneurship, their recent to consider. This would then be a fundamentally different type
travails demonstrate that these programs did not address the of education from that of teaching specific livelihoods; one that
fundamental issue of facilitating more equal opportunity struc- ends up developing an ecosystem for thriving, emergent enter-
tures for the poor. This involves not just giving credit, but also prise models in the local community and becoming in itself a
leveling the playing field through education and access. positive environmental trigger for participants. Again, for pub-
In the language of systems theory, this is about enabling a lic or private entities championing the education program, this
relatively closed system to benefit from moving to a relatively kind of win-win can occur only when there is a co-creation

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Sridharan et al. 17

mindset and specific emphasis on nurturing transformative sub- Blocker, Christopher, Julie Ruth, Srinivas Sridharan, Colin Beckwith,
sistence entrepreneurship on a wider scale to alleviate poverty Ahmet Ekici, Martina Goudie-Hutton, Jose Antonio Rosa, Bige
in communities. Saatcioglu, Debabrata Talukdar, Carlos Trujillo, and Rohit Var-
man (2013), Understanding Poverty and Promoting Poverty Alle-
viation through Transformative Consumer Research, Journal of
Conclusion Business Research, 66 (8), 1195-1202.
Through our study, we have highlighted a process of entrepre- Castells, Manuel and Alejandro Portes (1989), World Underneath:
neurial activity, TSE, which enables poor people to enhance The Origins, Dynamics, and Effects of the Informal Economy,
their own well-being and that of their communities, and chart in The Informal Economy: Studies in Advanced and Less Devel-
a path out of poverty out of their own initiative. However, oped Countries, Alejandro Portes, Manuel Castells, and Lauren
shocks to the fragile system may prevent this process from A. Benton, eds. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University
coming to fruition. Hence, through our subsequent discussion, Press, 11-40.
we have highlighted that market institutions can augment peo- Charan, Ram (2006), Sharpening your business acumen, Strategy
ples initiative by creating favorable opportunity structures that and Business Magazine, 42, 48.
direct the poors initiative to avenues of scaling up. Whereas Chen, Martha Alter, Renana Jhabvala, and Frances Lund (2002),
our data have provided a starting point to discuss TSE, they are Supporting Workers in the Informal Economy: A Policy Frame-
restricted to two locations within India. Considerable qualita- work, ILO Task Force on the Informal Economy, (accessed
tive and quantitative research is needed to further understand December 2012), [available at
the relationships between variables as well as to delineate the policypaper.pdf].
two proposed dimensions of TSE. We hope that other scholars Corbin, Juliet and Anselm Strauss (2008), Basics of Qualitative
will join in this fruitful line of inquiry. Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
De, Soto and Hernando (1989), The Other Path: The Informal Revo-
Acknowledgments lution. New York, NY: Harper and Row.
Dewald, Jim and Frances Bowen (2010), Storm Clouds and Silver
The authors gratefully acknowledge support from a Department of
Linings: Responding to Disruptive Innovations through Cogni-
Marketing Research Grant, Monash University, that helped fund two
travels to India for data collection. tive Resilience, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 34 (1),
Dholakia, Nikilesh (1984), Marketing in Less Developed Countries:
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
Its Nature and Prospects, in Marketing in Developing Countries,
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to
G. S. Kindra, ed. London, UK: Croon Helm, 10-28.
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) (2009), GEM 2009 Global
Report, (accessed March 1, 2014), [available at http://www.gem-
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, author- Harrison, Kelly, Donald Henley, Harold Riley, and James Shatter
ship, and/or publication of this article. (1974), Improving Food Marketing Systems in Developing Coun-
tries: Experiences from Latin America, Marketing in Developing
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Author Biographies
Sen, Amartya (1993), Capability and Well-being, in The Quality of
Life, Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen, eds. Oxford, UK: Clar- Srinivas Sridharan is an Associate Professor of Marketing in the
endon Press, 30-53. Faculty of Business & Economics, Monash University. He has a PhD
Sen, Amartya (1999), Development as Freedom. New York, NY: in Marketing from Indiana University, and previously taught at the
Alfred A. Knopf. University of Western Ontario. His research examines market beha-
Shane, Scott, Edwin A. Locke, and Christopher J. Collins (2003), viour in contexts of poverty. He has investigated empirical settings
Entrepreneurial Motivation, Human Resource Management in India, China, and Fiji. He has taught diverse marketing courses
Review, 13 (2), 257-279. across undergraduate, Masters, and PhD programs.

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Sridharan et al. 19

Elliot Maltz is a Professor of Marketing in the Atkinson Graduate research spans two areas: measurement and research methodology,
School of Management, Willamette University. He has a PhD in and literacy, poverty, and subsistence marketplace behaviors. His
Marketing from the University of Texas at Austin, and previously studies have examined settings in North and South America, Asia, and
taught at the University of Southern California. His research exam- Africa. He teaches courses on research methods and on subsistence
ines how marketing can combine with other functions to help and sustainability, winning numerous awards.
organizations be market driven. His teaching interests include mar-
Samir Gupta is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing in the Faculty of Busi-
keting strategy, new product planning, sustainability and supply
ness & Economics, Monash University. He has a PhD in Marketing
chain planning.
from The University of New South Wales. His research examines the
Madhubalan Viswanathan is the Diane and Steven N. Miller Profes- processes of innovation, relationships, and new product development
sor in Business at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He in organizations and multi-firm industry networks. He teaches courses
has a PhD in Marketing from the University of Minnesota. His on innovation and business marketing.

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