While entrepreneurial activities by migrants are not necessarily a new topic, the recent trend of globalisation as well as transnationalisation has certainly made migration entrepreneurship a more heterogeneous phenomenon. The rapid technological development in the communication and transportation sectors has enabled migrants to maintain both emotional and physical connections to their country of origin (Tung, 2008). These environmental changes have created more favourable conditions for the people called ‘diaspora’, the concept referring to migrants and their descendants who are embedded in their countries of residence, while maintaining ethnic collective identity and homeland orientation (Safran, 1991; Brubaker, 2005).
Economic engagements including entrepreneurial activities of diaspora have recently attracted considerable attention from both policy makers and researchers (Newland & Tanaka, 2010; Kotabe et al., 2013; Riddle & Brinkerhoff, 2011; Nkongolo-Bakenda et al., 2013). One of the main reasons for the growing interest in this topic is the significant socio-economic impact of diaspora entrepreneurs on both host and home countries. Diasporans transfer various types of human capital such as technological or industrial knowledge, financial capital and institutions across countries (Saxenian, 2005; World Bank, 2015; Riddle & Brinkerhoff, 2011).
Such entrepreneurs explore and exploit unique business opportunities and create idiosyncratic business models by using their rich and distinctive resources. Due to the mixed embeddedness in networks of host and home countries (Kloostermann et al., 1999), migrants and diasporans are able to access different types of collective and individual resources of different countries. Among others, previous researchers have confined their attention to network resources of migrant and diaspora entrepreneurs. On one side, thanks to advanced digital communication modes such as social media and internet communication, migrants more recently require less effort to maintain their ties to their home countries than ever before (Tung, 2008). On the other side, such technologies create new possibilities to connect migrants living abroad on the digital level (Brinkerhoff, 2012). Migrants today have access to networks in their homeland, in host countries and transnational diaspora networks (Newland & Tanaka, 2010; Kuznetsov, 2006; Elo, 2014). By utilising various types of networks, migration and diaspora entrepreneurs identify unique opportunities and create distinctive business models (Kloosterman, 2010).
Beside their network dynamics, there are a number of factors that make this phenomenon more diverse. Recent globalisation, for instance, has created various types of migration directions. While the majority of migrants are still moving from developing or emerging countries to more economically developed countries, there is also human mobility in the opposite direction or between developed countries (Harima, 2016). We still know little about how and why such migration directions may characterise migrants’ entrepreneurial activities.
Furthermore, there are different types of migration entrepreneurship. Drori et al. (2009) classified them into ethnic entrepreneurship, returnee entrepreneurship, international entrepreneurship and transnational entrepreneurship, which also enhances the heterogeneity of this phenomenon. It is of high priority to explore characteristics of each type to tackle this complexity. We have also been witnessing an immense refugee wave originating mainly from the conflicts and unstable political situations in the Middle East (UNHCR, 2016). While refugees share some common characteristics with migrants and diasporans, they are in the clearly distinctive settings and circumstances – with an impact on their entrepreneurial activities (Wauters & Lambrecht, 2008). Refugees’ entrepreneurial activities – despite their high practical and societal relevance – are still largely ignored in the literature.
Another factor characterising research on migration and diaspora entrepreneurship is the lack of dominant theories which are able to gives foundations for this phenomenon. Although it handles entrepreneurial activities of individuals, this phenomenon has developed as a sort of parallel world alongside mainstream research on entrepreneurship and management. Although there are some efforts to apply theories and concepts from such fields to the phenomenon of migration and diaspora entrepreneurship, current research still suffers from the lack of a bridge between these two different fields.
Considering the above-mentioned factors, this special issue tackles this heterogeneity of migration and diaspora entrepreneurship by considering various dimensions which determine its nature. The issue invites both empirical (both qualitative and quantitative) and theoretical work that extends and deepens the understanding of multi facets of this phenomenon.
The issue will carry revised and substantially extended versions of selected papers presented at the 1st and 2nd International Conferences on Migration and Diaspora Entrepreneurship, but we also strongly encourage researchers unable to participate in the conference to submit articles for this call.
Suitable topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Migration waves and entrepreneurship
- Motivation behind migration and diaspora entrepreneurship
- Diaspora business models
- The role of the digital world in migration and diaspora entrepreneurship
- Entrepreneurial activities for and by refugees
- Migration and diaspora entrepreneurs within entrepreneurial ecosystems
- Diaspora innovation and start-ups
- Female migrant entrepreneurship
- Social entrepreneurship by migrants
- Migration and diaspora entrepreneurs as change agents
- Returnee entrepreneurship
- Refugee entrepreneurship
- Minority entrepreneurship
- Institutions and migration/diaspora entrepreneurship
- The role of time and generations within the context of migration and diaspora entrepreneurship
- Culture, norms, religions and entrepreneurial activities by migrants
Submission of manuscripts: 28 February, 2017