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Cultural background and entrepreneurial spirit in retail

Country’s cultural background has always been negative to any entrepreneurship initiative, i.e. in the case of retail what prevailed was either the aversion to activity that involved business and the incrimination of profit, or the elevation of the retail job as a transitional phase

By: EBR - Posted: Friday, February 23, 2024

The consumer revolution that took place in Great Britain in the 18th century, inextricably linked to the development of retailing, was a dynamic phenomenon with mass characteristics that brought about a series of institutional changes in the political social status quo of Western societies.
The consumer revolution that took place in Great Britain in the 18th century, inextricably linked to the development of retailing, was a dynamic phenomenon with mass characteristics that brought about a series of institutional changes in the political social status quo of Western societies.

by Antonis Zairis*

Country’s cultural background has always been negative to any entrepreneurship initiative, i.e. in the case of retail what prevailed, as a confrontation between individual pursuit involving risk and risk taking and state protection offering security and protection, was either the aversion to activity that involved business and the incrimination of profit, or the elevation of the retail job as a transitional phase with no prospects and no meaningful career path until a new job was found.

In this way, Greek society has been grafted for many years with outdated concepts and ideological obstacles that crush individual initiative and individual interest on the altar of a flattening mentality regarding the values related to professional advancement in retailing and an inertia that acquires collective characteristics and has a deeper impact on the specific components that make up the personality of the individual.

The concept of risk is, of course, particularly important as the attitude of the person exposed to different degrees of risk depends entirely on his personality, his ability to analyse the environment, his rational criteria for evaluating an event, his ability to formulate rational assumptions, etc.

Taking all this into account, in combination with empirical knowledge, the risk-inducing event becomes obviously impaired and re-evaluated and the benefits-results of taking e.g. an entrepreneurial action prevail.

Otherwise the activation of individuals, even in everyday life events that involve a low degree of risk taking e.g. crossing a road with the risk of an accident, will remain inactive and the individual will permanently seek a low risk and of course low reward in terms of achieving the outcome.

The consumer revolution that took place in Great Britain in the 18th century, inextricably linked to the development of retailing, was a dynamic phenomenon with mass characteristics that brought about a series of institutional changes in the political social status quo of Western societies.

The 19th century for our country is crucial due to the foundation of the Greek state (1830) and the rapid changes that occurred in consumer preferences and the way of approaching commercial transactions. In this phase, the European value structure in Greece contributed greatly with romanticism (1830-1880) and literary tendencies spreading to every expression of social life.

So, from the Ottoman bazaar and the closed markets we move on to the national liberation struggle of 1821, the strengthening of the country’s fabric and the improvement of infrastructure. However, after the occupation speculation in 1940, in the post-war period, the prevailing perceptions make business and the concept of profit a field of intense ideological confrontation and conflict, resulting in the State’s wrong decision to take on an entrepreneur’s role planning and coordinating the functioning of economic life.

In the last quarter of the 20th century, however, private initiative is liberated and works wonders, while at the same time we are heading towards the new promising era of commercial consumption, dominated by the shopping malls, stores and the first shopping centres. The famous generation of the ‘30s is already leading the European trends. Retailing is evolving through various phases and operates on the basis of new standards imposed by the need to satisfy the demands of the modern consumer, which are met through constant negotiation and commercial transactions on the battlefield known as the retail store.

A new high aesthetic is beginning to emerge, which is visible on the facade and shop windows of commercial stores, but also through product demonstrations, for example fashion shows, aimed at attracting the existing and new highly demanding buying public.

The emergence of individual initiative ‘s importance and the primacy of individualisation over flattening uniformity and homogeneity brought a real revolution in entrepreneurship from the early 1980s.

Modernising concepts are prevailing and the promotion of entrepreneurship’s concept is accelerating rapidly in every form of organised society at local, regional or global level. The onslaught of globalisation has been a catalyst for that and has broken the barrier of protectionist notions that kept societies in mediocrity and citizens hostage by providing them with a supposed livelihood safety net.

So, if the cultural background of a society operates in conditions where the alignment of economy’s productive factors is identical to that of the government’s aspirations in terms of the desired outcome, which is the production of wealth and social welfare, then entrepreneurship is facilitated and developed and private initiative flourishes. In this context, retailing, the predominantly dynamic sector of the economy is able to produce results and operate beneficially in growth and employment rates of our country as the four (4) basic success factors that allow it to operate are fulfilled. Both (2) are the responsibility of retailer’s management.

Second, there is a spirit of teamwork and collaborative thinking that enables commitment to target achievement. Third, there is a clear vision, mission and value system that aligns with the retailer’s culture. Fourth, there is a clear social footprint that is reflected to wider sections of society by the retailer’s actions.

The spirit of entrepreneurship in retail is in line with the cultural background of a society that carries practices of free creative and individualized action that are liberated and in this way risk is approached and managed more effectively in the changing production and consumption pattern that the new reality demands. Of course, the way in which this new consumption pattern in retailing is served will also determine the degree to which it contributes to the economic growth of the country.

 

*Assistant Professor, Neapolis University, Paphos, Cyprus, Deputy Vice President of SELPE, co-author of the book "Sustainable Entrepreneurship”

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