Ethnic Entrepreneurship, Social Networks, and the Enclave
It is said that immigrants turn to entrepreneurship when, blocked from the mainstream, they can find a protected niche in the ethnic enclave. Canadian employers do not recognize the credentials of immigrant professional and technical workers. As a result, many turn to self employment. This paper studies entrepreneurship by a number of former professional and skilled new immigrants from China. We discuss the dynamics of starting a business in relation to the co-ethnic community. The data base for our paper is our ethnographic study of 50 PRC (People’s Republic of China) immigrant couples who ‘landed’ in Canada from 1996 to 2001. To date, 15 have tried self-employment. While several scholars have researched the processes of immigrant business start-ups, most describe densely networked ethnic communities. In contrast, these PRC newcomers are not embedded in the mainstream society; they lack roots in their co-ethnic communities. Neither are they part of a chain of people that arrive together. As pioneer immigrants, they consciously develop and build relations, on which their business efforts rest. Yet their connections are resource poor. We can learn much about the evolution of community and entrepreneurship from further study of PRC immigrants. They are rich in human capital, but poor in social relationships.
KeywordsSocial Network Social Capital Ethnic Community Ethnic Enclave Immigrant Entrepreneur
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