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Livelihoods or ecopreneurship? Agro‐economic experiments in Hambantota, Sri Lanka

Livelihoods or ecopreneurship? Agro‐economic experiments in Hambantota, Sri Lanka Purpose – In the context of contemporary debates on ecopreneurship and sustainable livelihoods, this article seeks to compare two programmes to promote a certain type of agro‐economic practice among rural farmers. By following the successes and failures of these programmes, the text interrogates how such initiatives are evaluated by the surrounding community of aid agencies and governmental bodies. Design/methodology/approach – Deploying the theoretical notion of “performativity”, as used within economic anthropology, the article posits that the above‐mentioned programmes can be construed as economic experiments. More specifically, the text compares two concurrent initiatives: One ecopreneurial experiment instigated by a social entrepreneur, and one livelihoods‐focussed experiment instigated by an aid agency. The case study is based upon material from a three‐year ethnography of entrepreneurship‐promoting programmes in Hambantota, Sri Lanka. Findings – While the ecopreneurial venture fails, the livelihoods‐based initiative proves successful in demonstrating its economic validity. The case study indicates that, in the context of modes of evaluation focusing on day‐to‐day incomes of farmers, it may be difficult for ecopreneurs to make room for ecological experimentation. Originality/value – Having identified this “ecopreneur's dilemma”, the article prompts scholars and policy‐makers to investigate it further, and potentially re‐examine how the livelihoods agenda is implemented in practice. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy Emerald Publishing

Livelihoods or ecopreneurship? Agro‐economic experiments in Hambantota, Sri Lanka

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1750-6204
DOI
10.1108/17506201311325788
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – In the context of contemporary debates on ecopreneurship and sustainable livelihoods, this article seeks to compare two programmes to promote a certain type of agro‐economic practice among rural farmers. By following the successes and failures of these programmes, the text interrogates how such initiatives are evaluated by the surrounding community of aid agencies and governmental bodies. Design/methodology/approach – Deploying the theoretical notion of “performativity”, as used within economic anthropology, the article posits that the above‐mentioned programmes can be construed as economic experiments. More specifically, the text compares two concurrent initiatives: One ecopreneurial experiment instigated by a social entrepreneur, and one livelihoods‐focussed experiment instigated by an aid agency. The case study is based upon material from a three‐year ethnography of entrepreneurship‐promoting programmes in Hambantota, Sri Lanka. Findings – While the ecopreneurial venture fails, the livelihoods‐based initiative proves successful in demonstrating its economic validity. The case study indicates that, in the context of modes of evaluation focusing on day‐to‐day incomes of farmers, it may be difficult for ecopreneurs to make room for ecological experimentation. Originality/value – Having identified this “ecopreneur's dilemma”, the article prompts scholars and policy‐makers to investigate it further, and potentially re‐examine how the livelihoods agenda is implemented in practice.

Journal

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global EconomyEmerald Publishing

Published: May 24, 2013

Keywords: Livelihood; Social entrepreneurship; Ecopreneurship; Economic anthropology; Ethnography; Performativity; Homo oeconomicus , Sri Lanka

References