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Refugee entrepreneurship motivations in Sweden and Germany: a comparative case study
Halmstad University, School of Business, Innovation and Sustainability.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5796-3746
Halmstad University, School of Business, Innovation and Sustainability.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4702-0626
Tech Univ Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
2023 (English)In: Small Business Economics, ISSN 0921-898X, E-ISSN 1573-0913Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Refugee entrepreneurs can make a significant contribution to sustainable growth and development in host countries. However, comprehensive comparative studies of refugee entrepreneurial motivations are scarce, particularly in the absence of a theoretical framework on entrepreneurship motivation that is suitable for such contexts. This is a research topic that is increasingly of interest to scholars and policymakers working with refugee workforce integration, particularly in light of forecasted increases in global forced displacement over the next years. This paper tests and extends newly constructed entrepreneurship motivation measures, comparing person-related factors and the perceptions of environmental-related factors for Syrian refugee entrepreneurs in Sweden and Germany. The results indicate that their motivations differ between the two countries with respect to market conditions, the educational environment, dissatisfaction, and know-how. However, refugee entrepreneurs in both countries have similar levels of entrepreneurial ambition and attitude and are motivated by similar perceptions of social environments and cultural norms. This paper identifies how entrepreneurship motivation differences could be considered by governments to better shape and inform host countries' programs and policies to improve refugee entrepreneurship and subsequent integration. Syrian refugees in Germany and Sweden differ in their motivation to pursue entrepreneurship, as evidenced by our comparative study, emphasizing the role of country context in shaping refugees' perception of environmental factors that influence their entrepreneurial motivation. We find that Germany-based refugee entrepreneurs are more motivated by market structures and educational offerings, have more know-how, and were less prone to negative motivation resulting from experiencing dissatisfaction (e.g. due to discrimination or lack of opportunities) compared with Sweden-based refugee entrepreneurs. The results emphasize the importance of policy reforms and initiatives that provide financial, administrative, and legal assistance to refugee entrepreneurs as they start and establish their businesses, as well as specialized entrepreneurship training and education programs. We call for future research on inter-country evaluations of institutional differences and migrant integration programs as well as trans-border exchange of lessons learned and success stories, particularly in-light of prognosed increases in global forced displacement over the next years. © The Author(s) 2023

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York, NY: Springer, 2023.
Keywords [en]
Refugee entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial motivation, Migration, Socioeconomic integration, Sweden, Germany
National Category
International Migration and Ethnic Relations
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-52190DOI: 10.1007/s11187-023-00830-xISI: 001088002800001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85174528094&OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-52190DiVA, id: diva2:1817528
Available from: 2023-12-06 Created: 2023-12-06 Last updated: 2024-03-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Immigrant Entrepreneurship In Sweden: Challenges And Opportunities Related To Business Development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Immigrant Entrepreneurship In Sweden: Challenges And Opportunities Related To Business Development
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: At a time of continued volatility and uncertainty, there is a growing need to tackle the numerous political-social challenges and embrace the opportunities presented by demographic shifts caused by mass immigration. The migration crisis, which peaked in the European Union during 2015 and 2016, with over a million immigrants, has sparked renewed discussions among scholars, politicians, and the public about the costs and benefits of immigration. Recently, more immigrants have turned to entrepreneurship to overcome exclusion from employment and create upward social mobility and social integration. However, certain groups of immigrants, particularly refugee and female refugees, are not adequately represented and under-researched. Additionally, there is insufficient research on their business development, which remains largely unstudied. The existing literature tends to focus on specific aspects of entrepreneurial business development, disregarding the potential influence of individual and contextual factors when combined. This results in a limited understanding of the phenomenon, which leaves the field with no coherent framework or adequate knowledge outcomes. Moreover, the lack of theoretical research on specific groups of immigrant entrepreneurs is partly due to the limited empirical research and fragmented theories.

Purpose: This thesis aims to contribute to the development of theory and to enrich the empirical studies regarding this diverse and heterogeneous phenomenon. Specifically, the main purpose of this thesis is to provide a comprehensive understanding of immigrant entrepreneurship, with a special focus on refugee and female entrepreneurs’ perceptions in rural and digital contexts. Ultimately, this thesis develops a conceptual framework that can be applied in future research. This conceptual framework highlights the diversity, multidimensionality, and dynamic of the immigrant entrepreneurship phenomenon.

Methodology: To fulfill the overall purpose of this thesis, a mixed methods approach integrating qualitative and quantitative research methods is employed to study the immigrant entrepreneurship phenomenon using in-depth interviews and a comparative case study through surveys. This thesis examines how specific groups of immigrant entrepreneurs perceive challenges and opportunities during their business development in specific contexts at three levels. At the micro-individual level, this thesis presents case studies of female refugee entrepreneurs and refugee entrepreneurs. At the meso-business level, this thesis examines challenges and opportunities for immigrant entrepreneurs in specific contexts (e.g., rural areas and the agri-food sector) and emerging technologies (e.g., digitalization). At the macro-environmental level, this thesis presents a comparative case study studying the impact of institutional differences on refugee entrepreneurship in different geographic locations, Sweden and Germany.

Findings: The findings emphasize that immigrant entrepreneurs are heterogeneous groups who perceive opportunities and challenges differently at different levels during business development based on their intersectional identities. Refugee entrepreneurs strategically leverage specific contexts, such as the agri-food industry, rural areas, or the digital landscape, to start their businesses, yet these contexts pose unique challenges. Additionally, this thesis offers an understanding of the start-up, growth, and exit phases. For instance, the exit phase, often overlooked, reveals crucial insights into reasons behind exiting the business, ranging from market unfamiliarity to the desire for industry switches after gaining valuable entrepreneurial experience. Moreover, digital technologies have emerged as a valuable tool, offering semi-anonymity advantages to female immigrant entrepreneurs. Notably, differences between refugee entrepreneurs in Sweden and Germany are uncovered, with varied motivations influenced by distinct market structures, educational offerings, and government policies. This thesis concludes by proposing an integrative multilevel conceptual framework that considers immigrant entrepreneurs' perspectives within particular contexts.

Implications: This thesis enriches the theoretical, empirical, and methodological foundation of immigrant entrepreneurship research by presenting an integrative, multilevel framework that combines mixed embeddedness with intersectionality. The proposed conceptual framework contributes to a better understanding of the heterogeneous nature of the immigrant entrepreneurship phenomenon via the integration of the various dimensions. In particular, the integration of intersectionality helps address the gender gap and migratory status, which is often overlooked in mixed embeddedness approaches. The conceptual framework also has practical implications for multiple stakeholders, including immigrants and host countries. It suggests policies and guidelines tailored to the intersectional identities of immigrant entrepreneurs, thereby fostering socioeconomic integration and combating exclusion, particularly among refugee and female entrepreneurs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Halmstad: Halmstad University Press, 2024. p. 112
Series
Halmstad University Dissertations ; 112
Keywords
Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Female, Refugees, Mixed Embeddedness, Business Development, Entrepreneurial Process, Intersectionality
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-52971 (URN)978-91-89587-38-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2024-04-26, S1020, Kristian IV:s väg 3, Halmstad, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2024-03-27 Created: 2024-03-26 Last updated: 2024-03-27Bibliographically approved

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Zalkat, GhazalBarth, Henrik

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