Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Political Science


Valerie H. Hunt

Committee Member

Brinck Kerr

Second Committee Member

Donna L. Graham


Social sciences, Capitals, Community, Development, Entrepreneurship, Policy, Rural areas


As rural communities struggle to maintain a sustainable economic base in today's global economy, many are exploring strategies to encourage entrepreneurial development. The purpose of this study was to better understand how local public policy is being be used to support the creation of entrepreneurship development systems in rural communities and how local context shapes entrepreneurship public policy formation. In phase one of the study, a survey and analysis of documents available on the Internet were used to identify county and municipal policy actions associated with entrepreneurial development in 16 counties in North Carolina. In the second study phase, two of those counties were selected as case studies. Using additional data generated through interviews, observation, and additional documents gathered during site visits, factors influencing entrepreneurial development policy formation in those counties were examined.

Grounded theory was used to categorize the 69 different entrepreneurial development policy actions into eleven groups. In addition, the community capitals framework was used to examine how policy actions utilized or leveraged different local resources as policy inputs in an effort to expand local capacity. Grounded theory, the community capitals framework, and the multiple streams model were used to explore the major factors influencing local entrepreneurship public policy formation.

The findings of this study confirm that county and municipal governments are playing an active role in encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial development. The range of actions taken within each county also suggest that local governments are providing a broad array of services and support for entrepreneurial development consistent with entrepreneurship development systems models. They are relying on a variety of local and non-local resources to support these efforts. The case studies demonstrate how local context leads to vastly different approaches and results even when counties or municipalities are pursuing what appear to be similar strategies. In particular, a community's history, local culture, Social capital, and participants influence how strategies are implemented and the ultimate end result.