Does religion influence entrepreneurial behaviour?

Andrew Henley

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Religion cannot be ignored in assessing the range of cultural and institutional influences that impact on entrepreneurial activity. This article integrates key themes from sociology of religion in the context of emerging ideas about religion and entrepreneurship in order to highlight key research questions. New institutional theory is discussed as a potentially useful lens for viewing the range of means through which religious expression and institutions might support entrepreneurship. A macro-level empirical investigation of societal indicators of religious affiliation and regulation of religion alongside Global Entrepreneurship Monitor data highlights particular data correlations and mediating influences. A significant association between entrepreneurial activity and evangelical or Pentecostal Christian religious affiliation is found, along with evidence that the impact of religion on entrepreneurship is mediated through pluralism and regulation. In discussing these findings further, the article proposes a more integrated conceptual framework for understanding the link between religious drivers and entrepreneurship, alongside institutional mediation. This forms the basis for further research, focusing on individual experience rather than aggregate associations and exploring in further depth of the mediating impact of institutional arrangements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-617
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Small Business Journal
Issue number5
Early online date08 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2017


  • culture
  • entrepreneurship
  • institutions
  • international data
  • religion


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