The economic potential of portfolio entrepreneurship: enterprise and employment contributions of multiple business ownership

Sara Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


Portfolio entrepreneurship has become an important theme within the small firms research literature. Although originally viewed as a means of reducing business risk, the ownership of multiple businesses by a single entrepreneur is now recognised as an important business growth strategy. Although studies specifically examining portfolio entrepreneurship are still scarce, the similarities between portfolio entrepreneurship in non-farm sectors and farm-based pluriactivity have been noted. Based on a survey of nearly 300 farm owners in Cambridgeshire, this study analyses the incidence of portfolio entrepreneurship in the farm sector and assesses its contribution in terms enterprise and employment creation. The study demonstrates that a core of farmers have multiple business interests and that these additional business activities make a substantial contribution to both numbers of enterprises and employment creation. The results of this study challenge three basic assumptions. First, contrary to the prevailing view within the small business literature, some farm businesses were found to spawn a number of additional businesses and create substantial new employment opportunities. Secondly, new enterprise and employment creation was not confined to larger sized (hectarage) farm businesses. Finally, the results challenge the orthodox assumption that employment creation in the small firms sector arises principally through the move into self-employment by new entrepreneurs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-306
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998



  • agriculture
  • employment
  • entrepreneurialism
  • growth
  • portfolio planning

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