National policy initiatives to encourage entrepreneurial behaviour are often developed with limited knowledge of the contextual constraints and causal factors. In this paper, we adopt a social realist approach, generally associated with critical realism, as a framework for analysing levels of entrepreneurial behaviour. The trigger for our study is the apparent anomaly of low levels of German entrepreneurship. We apply the morphogenetic framework of the sociologist Margaret Archer to Germany and then compare this to the United States. We conclude that particular so-called situational logics at the intersection of structure and culture constitute mechanisms which provide strategic direction for the decisions of potential entrepreneurs. We argue that a social realist stance based upon Archer’s sociology provides a practical grounding for research and policy development.