Towards a Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda for Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprises

Towards a Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda for Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprises

Carson Duan
Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/JBE.322774
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This study aims to contribute to the rapidly growing literature on immigrant entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs, enterprises (IEEE) by conceptually exploring the key impacting factors and their components from an entrepreneurial ecosystem perspective. The concept of the immigrant entrepreneurial ecosystem is developed as a research approach for studying the relationship between immigrant firms and their business environments. By examining the relationship between IEEE and the dual (host- and home-country) entrepreneurial ecosystem (immigrant entrepreneurial ecosystem), it is proposed that the immigrant entrepreneurial ecosystem framework is an important tool for IEEE research. This study contends that immigrant entrepreneurs' motivation, execution, and evolution are determined by their immigrant entrepreneurial ecosystem embeddedness. By identifying factors and their components that influence IEEE, this research proposed a conceptual framework and research agenda for IEEE. The results will contribute to IEEE literature.
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Policymakers, researchers, and societies, in general, have acknowledged the importance of migration and immigrant entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, and enterprises (IEEE) (Duan et al., 2022), a point highlighted in the United Nations International Migration Report for 2019 (UN, 2020). Accordingly, some governments have enacted policies to attract foreign-born talents and entrepreneurs into their countries (Hart & Acs, 2011), not only to solve their labor shortage problems but also to sustain economic growth. In some countries, migration and IEEE are seen as two of the critical drivers for sustainable prosperity (UN, 2020). The International Organization for Migration (IOM) noted that with appropriate policies, migration can contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth in both home and host countries (IOM, 2020). Some governments have set up IEEE promotion programs as a strategy for socioeconomic advancement (Sonfield, 2014).

IEEE is a multidisciplinary field, with investigations carried out from various perspectives, including those of sociology, economics, immigration, business, and management (Portes & Martinez, 2020); Duan & Sandhu, 2021b). Starting in the 1960s (Zhou, 2004), IEEE research has expanded exponentially, addressing questions such as the following:

  • What drives immigrants to establish their own businesses?

  • How is the business environment impacting IEEE?

  • What are the differences in characteristics between entrepreneurs from various ethnic backgrounds? (Kerr & Kerr, 2019).

The number of research articles published in academic journals and reports has increased exponentially in the last 20 years. Based on my Google Scholar search of “Immigrant Entrepreneurship,” the number of articles increased 5.65 times between the two two-year periods of 2000–2001 and 2016–2017; notably, 100 articles were published in the year 2000, and 600 in 2017. In 2018 and 2019, the number of articles increased to 1,220 in the Google Scholar database. For the 20 months from January 2021, the number of articles in Google Scholar reached a record high of 1,240. This finding confirmed that the interest of scholars and policymakers in IEEE is continuously growing.

So far, IEEE research has been centered on two streams: the individual (e.g., personal traits, human capital, etc.) and the business environment (e.g., local socioeconomic, political-institutional, and cultural circumstances). From the research strategy perspective, as Collins and Low (2010) pointed out that the literature on entrepreneurship often overlooks the study of immigrant or ethnic entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, and enterprises Kerr and Kerr (2019) noted that, although early work on IEEE addressed many important issues, insufficient attention has been paid to the big picture and in-depth studies are few. From a research methodology standpoint, clearly the individual stream of analysis is commonplace. Thus, Duan et al. (2022) argued that future investigations should take the entrepreneurial ecosystem into consideration, given the importance of the institutional, cultural, political, and social context to the promotion of IEEE.

In addition to the host society’s business environment and immigrant characteristics, fragmented research indicates that the immigrant’s home country affects IEEE in certain aspects. As immigrant economic activities are changing from predominantly stand-alone to networked, new perspectives are needed to study the relationships between host- and home-country influencing factors. These include sources of funding for start-ups (Kushnirovich & Heilbrunn, 2008), access to home-country markets and other resources (Brzozowski, 2017), the change of the home-country economic position (Van Tubergen, 2005), education facilities, social capital, market knowledge and opportunities, and social norms (Duan, et al., 2021d). However, there is a lack of holistic investigation into how immigrant entrepreneurs draw resources from both host and home countries and take advantage of the co-effects to establish and grow their ventures. Recently, researchers have asked for a lens through which to examine the relative influences of the home and host country on IEEE (Duan et al., 2021b).

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