Developing Capabilities, Not Entrepreneurs: A New Theory for Community Economic Development

Document Type



This Article presents a contemporary and compelling American context in which entrepreneurship is not a good solution. Despite the enormous potential that entrepreneurship seems to hold for community economic development, it has thus far failed as a framework for widespread and reliable local economic development and poverty alleviation. The reasons for this failure are grounded both in theory and empirical data. This Article takes up the theoretical question. It examines why entrepreneurship theory is a weak foundation for the work of community economic development practitioners. Arguing that the important work of these practitioners is best understood and measured using a theory grounded in poverty alleviation, this Article offers a modified version of the capabilities approach first developed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen. By relying on a theory that broadly conceptualizes poverty and social exclusion, community economic development practitioners can better evaluate the work that they are already doing. More importantly, the theory proposed here can and should guide practitioners to make straightforward changes with the potential for quite positive gains.

Date of Authorship for this Version



community economic development, poverty, social exclusion

Original Citation

Jim Rowan & Rasmi Dyal-Chand, Developing Capabilities, Not Entrepreneurs: A New Theory for Community Economic Development, 42 Hofstra L. Rev. 839 (2014).

This document is currently not available here.