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Entrepreneurship in a Pickle: Innovation and Arbitrage in the Sea Cucumber Trade

From: Anthropological Quarterly
Volume 86, Number 2, Spring 2013
pp. 559-588 | 10.1353/anq.2013.0021



Through an ethnographic analysis of an obscure commodity-the Maine sea cucumber-I explore entrepreneurship as a practice, rather than a set of attitudes. The sea cucumber trade creates a transnational network that reaches from rural Honduran villages, to Maine, to Asia. Many participants in this network might be called "entrepreneurs." I address two key questions: What do entrepreneurs do? And, how is entrepreneurship different from other forms of capitalist activity? I locate the source of entrepreneurial agency at the systemic level, challenging the hagiographic view of the individual entrepreneur as a dynamic source of economic growth.

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