This paper uses institutional theory to investigate the nexus between the institutional context and the development of the entrepreneurial process in the family firm (from start-up, development, and growth to innovation and corporate entrepreneurship), focussing on the behaviour patterns of entrepreneurs. A qualitative case study methodology was used to examine 60 cases over a one-year period. Thirty of these cases were from two extreme contexts: affluent means and modest means. Six cases were considered to have entrepreneurial-development and growth potential and, thus, were selected for in-depth interviews. The institutional context influences the entrepreneurial development. While external institutions, such as regulatory policies and the macroeconomic environment, positively influence entrepreneurial development from an affluent-means context, they have no impact on entrepreneurial development in a modest-means context. Qualitative studies have ways of delving deeper into real issues that can help entrepreneurs begin to adopt modern management practices. Too many informal enterprises may never contribute to economic growth. This points to the need for academia to begin generating meaningful discourses by looking outside the traditional family research topics. If policymakers consider the implications of the study, it will change the lives of many informal enterprises and reduce poverty.
Keywords: entrepreneurship, institutional context, family enterprises, entrepreneurial development, entrepreneurial growth.