Cultural Impediments to Entrepreneurship Development The Case of Sri Lanka

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Lee Keng Ng
Balbir Bhasin
Jim Beard


Purpose: The country direly needs to develop its entrepreneurial capability which is the key engine for economic development and poverty eradication. The Sri Lankan culture embraces collectivism and the traditional values of Theravada Buddhism, a belief system which inherently functions against the fostering of entrepreneurial spirit. Removing impediments to entrepreneurship is a key challenge for the country.

Findings: Sri Lanka is presently recovering from the destruction of the economy because of 30 years of civil war. The country is confronted by high government debt representing almost 80% of the GDP. Almost half of the population lived on less than $5 per day in 2013.

Originality/value: Using Sri Lanka as a case in point, this paper assesses the influence culture has on entrepreneurship and explores initiatives and measures that can be used to strengthen inherent cultural values that stimulate entrepreneurial spirit, encourage risk-taking, and in turn promote economic development.

Paper type: Research paper.


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Author Biographies

Lee Keng Ng, University of Arkansas Fort Smith

Lee Keng Ng holds a PhD in Strategy and International Business from Curtin University, Australia and a MSc. in international Business from Reykjavik University, Iceland. She was an EU scholar with endowment from the Marie Curie Foundation for her research on the internationalization of European companies in the environmental protection industry into China. She is presently the Assistant Professor in the College of Business at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith. Dr. Ng is fluent in English, Chinese and Icelandic.

Balbir Bhasin

Balbir Bhasin is the author of three monograph books: Doing Business in the ASEAN Countries, Assessing and Mitigating Business Risks in India and Burma: Business and Investment Opportunities in Emerging Myanmar. He is the Ross Pendergraft Endowed Professor of International Business at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith. He holds a PhD from the University of South Australia and has spoken both at Harvard and Oxford. He turned to teaching after being in the business world for over 19 years and having served in the government sector for 10 years. He also advises companies seeking to benefit from the opportunities in emerging Asian markets.

Jim Beard

Jim Beard is the Associate Professor of Management at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith College of Business.  He earned a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University.  Dr. Beard currently teaches courses in corporate social responsibility, business ethics, and leadership.  His research interests include business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and cultural issues in strategic management.