Business spaces between entrepreneurs and opportunities. The impact of the local built environment and zoning regulations on businesses in Dutch cities

Pascal Beckers & R.C. Kloosterman


Urban residential neighbourhoods, including migrant neighbourhoods, have become important incubation zones for small-scale businesses in recent years, and policy makers and academics alike are wondering which local factors affect this development.

In this paper we analyse to what extent migrant neighbourhood characteristics related to the built environment and the local regulations matter in determining the possibilities for small businesses. We contrast two types of neighbourhoods in the Netherlands, namely pre-WWII neighbourhoods with relatively little functional separation between residential and commercial purposes, and post-WWII predominantly mono-functional residential neighbourhoods. We combine quantitative and qualitative methodology using available firm data from trade registers of the Dutch regional chambers of commerce, reviewing neighbourhood zoning regulations, and conducting group and individual interviews with neighbourhood experts and entrepreneurs.

We find that the built environment of migrant neighbourhoods and its zoning do indeed appear to play a significant role in shaping the local business prospects of firms.

Keywords: Small-firm development, business success, local built environment, zoning regulations, neighbourhood effects, urban residential neighbourhoods

JEL codes: R23, R28, J15

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