Identity and difference - re-thinking ethnic entrepreneurship.

McPherson, Mark (2008) Identity and difference - re-thinking ethnic entrepreneurship. In: 31st ISBE National Conference, 5 - 7 November 2008, Belfast, Northern Ireland. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


Objectives: To what extent do religion and/or ethnicity impact on entrepreneurial identity of 1st and 2nd generation Sikh and Pakistani Muslim entrepreneurs?

Prior Work: Due to minority cultures experiencing the pull of two competing cultures, cultural background becomes a key determinant of ethnic identity. As such, ethnic identity is found on two levels. The first highlights group/community values, norms etc, whereas the second is an individual’s exposure to other cultures. What is not clear within the literature is the extent to which religion, culture etc impacts on ethnic entrepreneurial identity, or whether such identity is generation specific.

Approach: To understand identity and difference within ethnic entrepreneurship, 42 semi-structured interviews were conducted using two ethnic groups: 1st and 2nd generation Sikh and Pakistani Muslim entrepreneurs within Greater London. The study adopted a phenomenological paradigm.

Results: Respondents separate ‘skin colour’ from ‘identity’ wherein the former is acknowledged as an inhibitor, but provides the impetus to succeed against adversity. With the latter, respondents believe this to be an irrelevance as it impedes the entrepreneurial experience. Instead, respondents point to business sector, and prior employment skills/knowledge as an influence on their identity. Moreover, respondents feel their business needs are not ethnic specific.

Exploring further, 1st generation respondents, unlike their 2nd generation counterparts, do not suffer from shifts in identity - despite experiencing overt racism, and regarding the UK as home. Respondents identify themselves as (i) Sikh, or Pakistani Muslim in terms of religious identity, or without religious affiliation as (ii) a Businessman. The 2nd generation identify themselves via 3 labels. Here respondents stress their ethnicity using (i) Hyphenated British identities - British Asian, British Sikh or British Muslim; or hide their ethnicity behind the term (ii) a Normal Businessman – distancing themselves from ethnic/religious tags; or appear opportunists by using ethnicity as a resource to espouse (iii) a True Entrepreneur identity - embracing elements of points (i) and (ii).

Limitations of the paper note, given the sample frame/size, and social/economic environment within Greater London, findings may not be generalisable.

Implications: The paper has highlighted gaps within knowledge and suggests a need to further understand identity/difference from a 2nd generation perspective. Therefore, new directions in terms of a research agenda by policy makers, researchers and support agencies ought to be forthcoming. Such agenda should focus on identity vis-à-vis the 2nd generation entrepreneurial experience, thus reflecting changes in their current situation/business needs.

Value: This paper has challenged perceptions pertaining to the impact of identity on ethnic entrepreneurs generally, and the 2nd generation experience specifically.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Conference handbook - ISBN 9781900862 (abstracts and authors' details).
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Marketing, Branding and Tourism
A. > Business School > Strategic Marketing, Consumer Behaviour and Branding/Identity group
Item ID: 4632
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Devika Mohan
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2010 06:55
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:18

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