In This Review

Entrepreneurship in Latin America: A Step Up the Social Ladder?
Entrepreneurship in Latin America: A Step Up the Social Ladder?
Edited by Eduardo Lora and Francesca Castellani
World Bank Publications, 2013, 204 pp

Democratic stability in Latin America requires sustainable economic growth and ample opportunities for upward social mobility. This timely collection of academic studies explores the role of small businesses in achieving those objectives. Although it does not offer definitive answers, the volume questions some commonly held assumptions and draws distinctions among firms of various sizes and social origins. Not all pro-business public policies enhance social mobility, the editors reasonably argue. Many entrepreneurs arise from well-to-do families; indeed, in Latin America, a good predictor of an individual’s entrepreneurialism is whether his or her father was an entrepreneur. Hence, government policies that support upper-class entrepreneurialism risk consolidating existing social stratifications. The volume’s empirical studies of entrepreneurship in Argentina, Ecuador, and Mexico uncover many gems. For example, José Anchorena and Lucas Ronconi conclude that in Argentina, relatively well-paid public employment has “crowded out” entrepreneurship. A number of other contributors reflect on the business-democracy nexus and call for more business education but do not illuminate how it would directly cultivate responsible corporate citizenship and positive civic values.