Opportunity creation as a mixed embedding process : A study of immigrant entrepreneurs in Sweden
Abstract: Entrepreneurial opportunities are frequently noted and addressed in the literature of immigrant entrepreneurship; however, little is known about how these entrepreneurial opportunities come into existence and how immigrant entrepreneurs create such opportunities. The purpose of this thesis is to examine why and how immigrant entrepreneurs create entrepreneurial opportunities through embedding processes in the home country and the host country.Sweden was chosen as the country of residence of immigrant entrepreneurs from Lebanon, Syria, Cameroon and Mexico. Four cases were selected in this study. Each case illustrates an opportunity creation process in a different industry, between a different home country and Sweden as the host country and by immigrant entrepreneurs with different backgrounds.By using the mixed embeddedness perspective as the theoretical lens in combination with the literature on entrepreneurial opportunity and immigrant entrepreneurship, this thesis develops a model of entrepreneurial opportunity creation as an integration process. The findings suggest that entrepreneurial opportunity creation can be considered as a process of local integration by immigrant entrepreneurs into the host country and a re-integration of these entrepreneurs into the home country. At the beginning of the opportunity creation process, immigrant entrepreneurs feel socially excluded in the host country. Throughout the opportunity creation process, immigrant entrepreneurs interact with different actors in the host country and gradually move from being socially excluded to socially included, which illustrates a local integration process. In this process, immigrant entrepreneurs become localized through different activities that embed them in the local context. The process of entrepreneurial idea and business concept development and the refinement of the business concept in this thesis illustrates an ongoing and non-linear process of: being locally integrated through creating trust in the local people, acculturating and creating a sense of belonging; and being re-integrated to the home country through maintaining and establishing new links to the home country.The study contributes to the mainstream entrepreneurship and immigrant entrepreneurship in several ways. First, it contributes to studies on immigrant entrepreneurship by investigating why immigrants embark on a journey to be entrepreneurs and how immigrant entrepreneurs create entrepreneurial opportunities through embedding processes in the home and the host country. The study demonstrates how an entrepreneurial opportunity is created as a social integration process.Second, the study contributes to literature on entrepreneurship and immigrant entrepreneurship by incorporating the entrepreneurial opportunity creation process with acculturation strategies. It illustrates how the entrepreneurial opportunity creation process intertwines with the four strategies of acculturation.Third, the study contributes to the mixed embeddedness perspective by adopting the process approach and proposing mixed embedding as a new concept which centers on the interplay between the home and the host country’s influences on immigrants’ business activities; by extending mixed embeddedness from the national level of the home country or the host country to the transnational level between the home country and the host country; and by proposing an alternative way to view an entrepreneurial opportunity as a creation process instead of being discovered.Fourth, the study contributes to the immigrant entrepreneurship literature in Sweden by furthering the understanding of entrepreneurial opportunity creation by immigrant entrepreneurs in Sweden.Furthermore, the study suggests some implications for practice. The study proposes some embedding mechanisms which can be implemented in business support programs for immigrant entrepreneurs and in integration programs for immigrants in general. The design of the business support programs can aim to help immigrant entrepreneurs to: create credibility through contacts and experiences that they establish and gain in the local community; create familiarity to the local community through associating business concepts with well-known values; engage in the local life to understand customers’ mindsets, master the local language to understand local customers’ needs; and establish new/strengthen connections to the home country. The design of integration programs can aim to undertake activities that help immigrants increase the interaction between the local people and themselves. This type of interaction could be increased by organizing meetings and activities in which immigrants are introduced to different local sports clubs and hobby clubs. An approach in which the host country’s language is practiced and mastered anywhere and anytime should be adopted in the integration programs.
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