The Social Psychological Dimensions of Immigrant Entrepreneurship
Immigrant entrepreneurship is increasingly becoming part of the business landscape in Canada and, as a result, is gaining scientific attention. Nonetheless, the phenomenon of immigrant entrepreneurship has been scarcely addressed through the lens of social psychology. The objective of the present study, thus, was to examine the experiences of immigrant entrepreneurs from a Social Identity Theory perspective. It was predicted that social identification would be related to the source of social capital that was used, perceptions of discrimination and the entrepreneurs’ intentions to stay in Canada. Additionally, based on the literature, reasons for starting a business, level of acculturation and predictors of ethnic business were also explored. One hundred twenty one immigrant entrepreneurs from across Canada completed a questionnaire about their experiences as an immigrant business owner in Canada. The results showed that relying on coethnic social capital was related to a stronger cultural identity, but that non-coethnic social capital was unrelated to Canadian identity. Perceived discrimination was not associated with using coethnic social capital, but perceived discrimination was related to a stronger cultural identity and weaker Canadian identity. Consistent with the literature on sojourners, intentions to stay were positively related to Canadian identity and negatively related to cultural identity. As for explored relationships, reasons for entrepreneurship were a combination of both push and pull factors and regression analyses revealed that Canadian identity is a significant predictor of staying in Canada and dealing with disadvantage in the labour market. Lastly, feeling disadvantaged and being less acculturated were predictors of pursuing an ethnic business strategy. Overall, identity plays a considerable role in immigrant entrepreneurs’ behavior and business decisions and it deserves further attention in research. The findings are relevant to develop theory on immigrant entrepreneurship and have implications for immigrant serving agencies and policy makers.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorGrant, Peter R.
CommitteeLawson, Karen; Desjardins, Michel
Copyright DateSeptember 2011
Social Identity Theory