Interfacing with Diaspora/Ethnic Entrepreneurship: A Case of Getting the Right Balance in the HRM Ethnic Marketing Nexus

Interfacing with Diaspora/Ethnic Entrepreneurship: A Case of Getting the Right Balance in the HRM Ethnic Marketing Nexus

Jummy Okoya (University of East London, UK)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1991-1.ch010


The chapter deals with the issue of diversity in society and changing markets combined with matters dealing with marketing strategies. The increasing diversity of the UK's ethnic population suggests that firms/organizations have a need to pay closer attention to the needs of different ethnic groups in order to generate value and competitive advantage in the marketplace. One way of understanding those needs involves, not only hiring competent ethnic personnel but allowing them to play substantive strategic management roles in the firm/organization. The paper highlights the opportunities and challenges of an ethnically heterogeneous workplace through illustrations in four industrial sectors in the UK. Consequently, a theory of practice is formulated for a successful outcome of, not only diaspora/ethnic businesses but other non-ethnic and large firms/organizations.
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This chapter attempts to analyze the theme of diaspora entrepreneurship, not from the perspective of trans/cross-border entrepreneurial engagements, but on ethnic/immigrants’ enterprises based in the country of residence. The basis for this is the conjecture that many diaspora and transnational enterprises emanate from the country of residence before expanding to the country of origin (or other locations). Many studies (e.g. (Portes et al., 2002; Terjesen and Elam, 2009; Light, 2010) on diaspora and transnational entrepreneurship often link ethnic/immigrants ventures between the countries of origin and residence. Also, authors (e.g. Ojo, 2013) have linked the success of diaspora/ethnic entrepreneurs in the country of residence to cross-border/transnational expansionary tendencies. Yet, it has been argued that transnational entrepreneurs’ businesses success depend on regular contact with foreign countries (Portes et al., 2002). Essentially, this paper rationalizes that the success of the immigrants/ethnic business is as important whether or not it is directly linked to cross-border expansion. Hence, the focus here will be on the success criteria of diaspora/ethnic entrepreneurship in the country of residence. Enterprises owned/lead by migrant entrepreneurs would benefit from opening up to “traditional” markets and not only exploit the growing markets they are familiar with already.

Furthermore, in order to emphasize the issue of diversity in the country of residence, the focus will extend to large mainstream firms/organizations and the need for a marketing/HRM strategy in a multicultural society as not only companies lead and owned by the autochthonous need to adopt related strategies. The UK diverse multicultural society (Doughty, 2013) is employed as a contextual background.

One of the defining features of modern Britain, at least, in economic and social spheres, is the increasing diversity of the population groups – making the country on course to become the most ethnically diverse in Europe (Doughty, 2013). Whilst the UK has witnessed a progressive growth in its ethnic minorities’ population, there is limited evidence of acculturation into ‘Britishness’. Rather, the ‘ethnics’ have remained fairly stable enclaves and seemingly asserting and reconstructing their identities based on felt-ethnicity (Ojo et al., 2015). This is having far-reaching marketing implications in terms of movements in constructing stable consumer profiles, segmentation, consumption identities, delineating market boundaries in relation to key sectors and outgrowth of new markets especially the variants that are moving from the fringes of the economy to the mainstream marketplace. For example, ethnic food is now a growing market in the UK, recent data on the overall ethnic foods market recorded a 24% increase in sales value between 2007 and 2011, showing a growth rate of a solid 6.6% in 2011 compared with 0.2% of the overall economy (Mintel, 2012). Basically, the ethnic market has transformed to a large part of the local economy with broader coverage of urban demands, particularly in big cities. For instance, Chakrabortty et al (2012) contend that, in multicultural Britain, the BME population now account for 12% of the UK population and their purchasing power is about £300 billion.

Accordingly, the need for firms to rethink and realign their strategic intervention in this ever-changing landscape is imperative. The resource-based view strategic process (which identifies key resources or competencies and audits the environment for opportunities to exploit these resources) stresses the adaptation of the firm/organization to changing environmental conditions. It is then essential that firms/organizations understand the ethnicity of their customers, accept their customs, and tap into their sensitivities. A key resource for firms/organizations, which helps in this regard is their staff/employees. Full exploitation of the skills and potential of all employees could facilitate access to a changing marketplace by reflecting increasing diverse markets (Gardenswartz & Rowe, 1998; Iles, 1995) and enriching corporate image (Kandola, 1995).

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