Motivations for Indigenous island entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurs and behavioral economics in Greenland

Christian William Wennecke*, Rikke Becker Jacobsen, Carina Ren

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Greenland continues to undergo decolonization, the ultimate political ambition
being a ‘self-sustaining economy’ and political independence from Denmark. Drawing on a recent survey in combination with ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores the connection between political independence and entrepreneurial activities in Greenland. While entrepreneurs are increasingly expected to play a central role in fostering economic change, we are curious about what motivates them, and especially whether their motivations are related to the struggle for national independence. While entrepreneurship generally seems primarily motivated by a desire for personal autonomy, entrepreneurship in the context of an Indigenous island community seems driven by certain communal values, such as supporting the local community, cultural pride, family, and place. Our research supports the notion that entrepreneurship is motivated by non-pecuniary values, and we find entrepreneurship to result from a mesh of intertwined motivations. While we were unable to identify a direct link
between the ambition for national autonomy and entrepreneurship, the paper contributes to the understanding of entrepreneurship as an instrument for decolonization drawing on a range of empirical cases and a multi-disciplinary approach.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIsland Studies Journal
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)43-60
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Island entrepreneurship
  • Indigenous entrepreneurship
  • Greenland

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