Arbeit, Demografie

Migrant Entrepreneurs and Social Capital: A Revised Perspective

15.07.2009 | HWWI Research Paper | von Andreia Tolciu

During the past two decades, considerable attention has been paid to the relationship between migrant entrepreneurship and ethnic social capital. A central idea emerging from the ongoing research is that migrant businesses are created and managed within networks of ethnic interpersonal relations. This paper challenges the mainstream idea of "ethnically over-socialized" migrant entrepreneurs, by embedding the concept of social capital in a framework based on economic incentives and bounded rationality. The analysis of 58 recent interviews with Turkish business owners presents, in contrast with the existing literature, a perspective in which migrant entrepreneurs are first and foremost economic actors, who predominantly understand their ethnic social capital as a strategic resource for action. Furthermore, in a context disentangled of ethnicity and social capital, this paper discusses the necessity of adopting a more differentiated view when comparing migrant to native business owners.