The role of sense of community in promoting community based entrepreneurship in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa : an exploratory study of agricultural co-operatives.
Mkhize, Mthokozisi Lungisani.
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Research on the sense of community theory has been investigated in relation to studies that addresses crime prevention (Polk, 2010), suicide (Whitlock, 2006) and decrease child abuse (Greenfield, 2010). However, there is a dearth of research studies that addresses the relationship between sense of community and community-based entrepreneurship. Community-based entrepreneurship could play a more significant role in rural economic development given all the psychological community factors that influence this phenomenon are well known. The main objective of this study was to understand the role of sense of community in promoting community-based entrepreneurship in rural areas. This topic is exploratory in nature. As a result of this, quantitative data using a questionnaire was collected in order to address the research objectives of the study. A non-probability sampling technique, known as judgment was used to narrow down the research population from over one hundred agricultural cooperatives to three agricultural cooperatives used in this study. The three agricultural cooperatives represented a target population of this study in which a census survey was conducted. Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS statistical package tool version 20.0. Furthermore, a Pearson correlation coefficient analysis was used to analyse the relationship between the variables of the sense of community theory in the context of community-based entrepreneurship. Furthermore, the empirical results were synthesized with the literature review to assist during data analysis. The empirical findings of the study revealed that sense of community plays a major role in the success of community-based entrepreneurship. For example, the level of sense of belonging and openness promotes social cohesion and social capital within agricultural cooperative members. The results also revealed that sense of community theory could be used to understand failures and success of community-based entrepreneurship. According to the Indaba Report (2012), the failures of the agricultural cooperative were only associated with the shortage of finances and lack of marketing skills. Therefore, based on these research findings, it could be recommended that the government must also acknowledge the sense of community as a contributing factor in the failures or success of agricultural cooperatives. Then it can be concluded that this study filled a research gap on how the role of sense of community promotes community- based entrepreneurship. For this reason, future research on community-based entrepreneurship should take into consideration the psychological aspects that influence this phenomenon. The main limitation of the study was that primary data was only collected in three agricultural cooperatives from more than one hundred agricultural cooperatives in Nkandla KwaZulu-Natal due to limited resources. As a result, the findings of the research cannot be generalized to the entire population of agricultural cooperatives in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, but only to the selected agricultural cooperatives.