Digital Entrepreneurship for Immigrants: Motivations, Strategies, Ecosystems, and Performance

Digital Entrepreneurship for Immigrants: Motivations, Strategies, Ecosystems, and Performance

Carson Duan (University of New England, Australia), Bernice Kotey (University of New England, Australia) and Kamaljeet Sandhu (University of New England, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2799-3.ch009
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This chapter examines the concept of digital entrepreneurship for immigrants (DEI) through the lens of entrepreneurship research theories and practices. The authors argue that the current focus of digital entrepreneurship (DE) research has centered on successful digital entrepreneurs with proactive innovation strategies and high-performance outcomes, largely being well-known brands. On the other hand, immigrants who are engaging in digital entrepreneurship have been neglected in current related literature. This chapter presents a conceptual framework for combined immigrant and digital entrepreneurship study. The authors propose future research themes for DEI drawing from the results and implications of two Chinese immigrant digital entrepreneurs in NZ and Alibaba e-commerce platforms in China.
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In today’s digital economy era, there is a general acknowledgement of the importance of digital entrepreneurship (DE) to socioeconomic development among policymakers, researchers and society (Sahut, Luca, & Frédéric, 2019). DE has rapidly become a new interdisciplinary research field (Nambisan, 2017); the field has been examined through information systems (Du, Pan, Zhou, & Ouyang, 2018), economics (Richter, Kraus, Brem, Durst, & Giselbrecht, 2017), management, innovation (Nambisan, 2017), policy, education (P. Li, Liu, Zhang, & Li, 2017), strategy and sociology standpoints in conjunction with entrepreneurship disciplines (Zaheer, Breyer, & Dumay, 2019). To date, there are several terms defining DE such as internet entrepreneurship between 2000-2001, cyber entrepreneurship around 2004, information and communication technologies (ICT) entrepreneurship (Bogdanowicz, 2015) and IT associated entrepreneurship (Steininger, 2019). Scholars make use of these terms interchangeably, or with a self-explained definition for the research target. In this research, the concept of DE is “the process of entrepreneurial creation of digital value through the use of various socio-technical digital enablers to support effective acquisition, processing, distribution, and consumption of digital information (Sahut et al., 2019)” or “new venture opportunities presented by new media and internet technologies (Davidson, Vaast, & Ieee, 2010).”

Despite increasing research interest in the digital entrepreneurship sector, only a few studies have devoted attention to immigrants (Melnikova, Grunwald, Ahrens, & Zascerinska, 2019) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) (Afutu-Kotey, Gough, & Owusu, 2017). Scholars have focused on extensively successful internet platforms, infrastructures and technology companies, whereas routine front-line digital entrepreneurs have not received enough attention from a DE perspective. As a matter of fact, many frontline ICT services and development firms are SMEs. Many entrepreneurs who create economic value through/by the Internet platform are sole traders and start their venture either opportunity-driven or necessity-driven.

While immigrant entrepreneurship (IE) has played a critical role in the socio-economic development of most advanced countries from the 1970s (Zhou, 2004), DE has been in a crucial position since the digital economy era started in the early 1990s (Sussan & Acs, 2017). It is widely regarded that digital entrepreneurship has changed the business landscape and is a major driving force in propelling the economy, however, there is a lack of conceptual framework developed in DE, particularly DE for immigrants. In addition, there is very little research that focuses on DE motivations, or factors influencing a person's capabilities for digital entrepreneurship. This research paper seeks to address this gap; it is a first attempt in discussing digital entrepreneurship for immigrants.

Well-known and often-researched examples with digital service business models include Google, YouTube, Amazon and many others (Sahut et al., 2019). With these newly created models, markets have been witnessing a transition in firms offering strategies from products to services and then servicing as advocated in the service-dominant logic (SDL) (Sussan & Acs, 2017). Drawing on SDL, service exchanges are the only economic activities that exist among economies and societies, Karmarkar (2015) argues that there are two key trends: the move to a service economy and the evolution to an information economy, “Information Services is where these two trends come together… More and more value will continue to accrue to services, to the information sector and to their intersection: information services.” Additionally, SDL logic sees service as a process, i.e. doing something for another party, the locus of value creation moves from the “producer” to a collaborative process of co-creation between parties (Vargo, 2008).

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