|University||Business ResearchSingapore Management University (SMU)|
|Subject||MGMT205: International Business|
MGMT205: International Business Dissertation, SMU, Singapore Immigrant businesses illustrate the ever more visible footprint migrants are leaving in Western societies over the last years
Immigrant businesses illustrate the ever more visible footprint migrants are leaving in Western societies over the last years. Over the past decades, most Western countries including the Netherlands have seen a notable increase of immigrant business ownership, especially for migrants originating from nonWestern countries (it’s 2007, CBS Stateline 2009). While immigrant entrepreneurship can be a promising alley enabling individuals to gain economic mobility and social recognition (Van den Tillaart 2001, Chennai 1997), it is commonly discredited on the grounds of being low value-added, little innovative, and marginally profitable (Light & Rosenstein 1995, Waldinger 1996, Kloosterman, Rath & Van der Leun 1997).
Explorative studies by Van den Tillaart (2001), EIM (2004) and Rusinovic (2006), however, suggest that the traditionally gloomy image of migrant entrepreneurship needs to be reassessed as a “new” group of migrant entrepreneurs – namely the children of migrants or the so-called second generation – has started businesses in more promising sectors of the economy. From a theoretical perspective, the thesis contributes to the field by
broadening our understanding of migrant entrepreneurship Most of the current literature on migrant entrepreneurship has emphasized human and social capital is an important driver for becoming an entrepreneur (see, e.g., Fairlie 1999, Clark & Drinkwater 2000, Ram et al. 2000, Levent et al. 2003, Arenius & De Clercq 2005, Wilson et al. 2007, Andersson & Hammarstedt 2010), while I attempt to address the outcomes of migrant ventures and want to focus more on firm and firms’ strategy characteristics.
Exploring migrant entrepreneurship has become an interesting and important research field covering many issues (Kloosterman & Rath, 2003). Therefore, this thesis takes a broad approach that allows taking the whole context of migrant entrepreneurship into account. More specifically, migrant entrepreneurship in Dutch cities encompasses many important issues, for example:
- To what extent does entrepreneurship contribute to happiness, success
and upward social mobility?
- What is their contribution to the local economies?
- How does migrant entrepreneurship affect integration?
One cannot research migrants in Western European societies without discussing integration. And not surprisingly migrant entrepreneurship is closely related to migrant integration trajectories in their host societies. Integration trajectories have been intensively studied to date (Portes and Zhou 1993, Alba and Nee 2004, Portes, Fernandez-Kelly & Haller 2008, Pels1991, Vermeulen and Penninx 1994, 2000, Lindo 1996, Crul 2000, Dagevos 2001), but surprisingly, the literature turns a blind eye at self-employment, although labour market positions are portrayed as an important outcome of integration. Alike in the labour market, it is expected that integration into the host society increases the chance to enter self-employment and raises the developmental prospects of the founded firms because integration enhances migrants’ abilities to access vital business information and to mobilise
necessary resources (see also Constant & Zimmermann 2006, Evans 1989, Le
I employ the integration definition of Vermeulen and Penninx (1994, 2000)
who distinguish between two dimensions of integration: the socio-cultural
and the structural dimension. The socio-cultural dimension reflects
interpersonal relations with the native Dutch population and the extent of
cultural, attitudinal, and behavioural changes towards the host society (i.e.
Dagevos, Gijsberts and Van Praag, 2003; Dagevos, 2001; Vermeulen and
Penninx, 2000; Veenman, 1995; Rusinovic, 2006). Structural integration refers
to the participation of immigrants in core institutions of society and is usually
measured by educational attainment, position in the labour market, and
residential integration (Dagevos, 2001; Rusinovic, 2006). Using Vermeulen &
Penninx (1994, 2000) integration terminology, the socio-cultural and structural
integration of the five major migrant groups in the Netherlands will be
The mixed embeddedness framework developed by Kloosterman, van der
Leun and Rath (1999) offer a useful theoretical approach. The framework
builds upon interaction theory (Aldrich & Waldinger 1990; Light &
Rosenstein 1995) and considerations regarding social embeddedness
(Granovetter 1985). It departs from the notion that immigrant
entrepreneurship depends on a multitude of contingencies determining the
interplay of individual characteristics of the entrepreneur on the one side and characteristics of the wider social, economic and politico-institutional
the environment on the other side. In the latter context, Kloosterman et al.
(1999) coined opportunity structures, which describes the setting creating business opportunities for prospective and established entrepreneurs. Opportunity structures are shaped by economic factors both on the supply side, such as entrepreneurs’ individual and cultural characteristics, as well as on the demand side, e.g. the presence of an accessible customer base. At the same time, politico-institutional factors, namely existing national rules and
legislations, institutions and laws enable or hamper business start-ups and
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