Understanding consumption and entrepreneurship in subsistence marketplaces

Madhu Viswanathan, Srinivas Sridharan, Robin Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article describes exploratory research on how consumers and small entrepreneurs navigate subsistence marketplaces, with particular emphasis on social networks, a central characteristic of these contexts. Existing studies have characterized subsistence contexts as 1-to-1 interactional marketplaces due to the prevalence of face-to-face interactions among consumers and sellers when evaluating products, making purchases, and operating small businesses. This research uses survey methods to study these networks, paying particular attention to how individuals interact within them, the kind of information being shared, their influence on purchase decisions and business decisions, and finally, their impact on the marketplace skills of subsistence consumers and entrepreneurs. Consideration of both consumers and entrepreneurs provides perspective on the role of social networks from both sides of the business transaction. The article also discusses implications for business research and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-581
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Subsistence consumers
  • Subsistence entrepreneurs
  • Subsistence marketplaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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