Business research methods: A perspective of street traders in the informal economy


  • Dumisani Godfrey Mabasa University of South Africa



Informal economy, research methods, sampling methods, self-employed or own-account workers, street traders


Many people, despites being educated or not, struggle to find decent jobs in the formal economy. Some end-up working in the informal economy as self-employed/own-account workers. Informal economy is the largest employer with more potentials, employing approximately 61 percent of the global labour force. Despite different forms of occupations, street trading is the most visible occupation in the informal economy. There is a research gap between formal and informal economy, with most research done in the formal economy. It is recommended that micro-level individuals must be included in research to broaden knowledge. The informal economic activities are not reported in government statistics. It is odd because the informal economy is the largest global employer and street trading is found in both developed and developing economies. Informal economic activities are however associated with lack of growth and social security, money laundering, and financing of terrorist activities. The study was conducted to determine work engagement of street traders using the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES). The UWES is validated and used for quantitative studies in the formal economy. The instrument was pretested and piloted for quality appraisal purposes for validation and use in the informal economy. The general lack of credible records of street trading activities, makes it difficult for researchers to conduct studies using different methodologies in the informal economy. The convenience sampling strategy, a nonprobability sampling startegy, was used in choosing participants, and  was most valid for solving the problem of the study, choosing participants accidentally on availability. Most quantitative studies involving street traders are restricted to using nonprobabiliity sampling, which is a concern. The high birth and/or mortality rate of street trading businesses make the database inconsistent to use as some do not report when exiting or entering. The lack of credible records/database of street trading activities, and over reliance on nonprobability sampling strategy, restrict the holistic generation of knowledge. The street traders’ activities must be registered to develop from knowledge generated through research.