Business Management
2 min read

Attitudes about entrepreneurship vary internationally

EHL Insights
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If you have traveled in other countries or studied abroad, then you understand that attitudes and beliefs differ as you travel around the world. A gesture that's friendly or harmless in one country may be rude in another country, for example.

When it comes to business, hospitality leaders must understand the cultural attitudes of the countries where they are doing business, including perspectives on entrepreneurship.

Find out why attitudes about business vary in different countries and how to be a culturally sensitive hospitality professional. 

Cultural attitudes 

Entrepreneurs are people first. People can be influenced by new beliefs - that's how we change and grow - but take the lessons learned from the culture or cultures in which they were raised. Speaking of entrepreneurship, these cultural attitudes shape the business leader's mindset, which influences their actions and words, which lead to the decisions they make. 

For an example, consider the principal of entrepreneurship in general. In the United States, where the concept of "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" illustrates class mobility toward the "American Dream," entrepreneurship and owning your own business are seen as highly desirable, worthy pursuits.

In Asian countries, there's less of a focus on bootstraps and more of a focus on the family and community. While entrepreneurship is not discouraged in these countries, business owners must factor in the greater good of the community and the family when making decisions, rather than just what might be good for the company. 

When business owners are opening businesses in other countries, they can think about the local attitudes toward entrepreneurship and adapt their approach. So a U.S. developer opening a hotel in Vietnam may want to get community support for their project before building, rather than going ahead with their plans single-mindedly. 

Attitudes toward risk, which are often culturally determined, also affect perceptions of entrepreneurs. In countries that are more risk averse, individuals may focus on the possibility of failure in business. In countries that embrace and reward taking risks, then individuals are less likely to focus on the fear of failure -- and go ahead with their big idea. 

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Demographics also contribute to the cultural attitudes about business ownership in countries. There simply are not the same opportunities available when you factor in things like age, gender, educational opportunities, or income levels.

It takes a certain amount of capital to open a business: entrepreneurs need money for business space, for licenses or permits, to hire contractors, to purchase inventory, to bring on employees, and so on.

While you don't need to be wealthy to start a business -- especially if you can qualify for loans or grants -- you can't really launch a business if your most pressing concern is buying food for your family. Thus it's not surprising that a country like Brazil, which has a medium level of income, lags behind the U.K., a wealthier nation, by a factor of fourfold when it comes to the rate of entrepreneurs.  

Governmental Policy 

Some countries are more open for new business ventures than others due to the governmental policies in place.

Governmental policies in the form of regulations and laws affecting business development also affect individual's attitudes toward owning a business. In countries that have created a difficult path for entrepreneurs, people may be disinclined to launch a company because the already difficult path to business ownership is made more difficult by the restrictive regulations.

Conversely, when countries have really adopted a business-friendly mindset, their citizens have a much more positive outlook on entrepreneurship, because they see others launching successful businesses and know they would be supported within the community if they wanted to be an entrepreneur, too. 

In some countries, such as Cuba, people are guaranteed employment in the public sector, which means there is really no need to become an entrepreneur in the Caribbean country, because the government provides for its citizens. In contrast, in a country like the U.K. where the government provides some levels of assistance for their citizens but doesn't go so far as to guarantee employment for its citizens, there's a much higher interest in entrepreneurship because individuals need to find their own employment, rather than look to the government. 

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