Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


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5.2 ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS, Business and Management.

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of PhD.


In today’s world, entrepreneurship is considered an engine of growth and government policies shape the ecosystems and environments that facilitate entrepreneurial activity (Minniti, 2008). Thus, entrepreneurship is of increasing importance to policy makers and academic researchers due to its influence on economic growth. There has been a significant change in migration patterns over the last half century and the rate of immigration between countries has increased dramatically in recent years. This has also resulted in a dramatic increase in the rate that immigrants engage and practice entrepreneurial activities in their host countries. Consequently, numerous studies have focused on the value and the processes of immigrant entrepreneurial activity. An increasing area of interest within immigrant entrepreneurship theory is the role of ethnicity. For example, studies by Brett (2002), Fenton (2010) and Guibernau and Rex (2010) have identified that ethnicity plays an important role in the nature of entrepreneurial activity undertaken by immigrants. However, within each of these studies, what has not been studied is how ethnicity influences entrepreneurship opportunity formation from an immigrant entrepreneurship perspective. It is this gap in the literature that this thesis is seeking to address. This thesis reviews literature in the areas of entrepreneurship theory, entrepreneurial opportunity formation, immigrant entrepreneurship and ethnicity. Through the reviewed literature, a framework was established which served as a basis for analysis of the data generated through the primary research. The primary research took place in Dublin which involved in-depth interviews with 1st Generation immigrant entrepreneurs from four different countries (Brazil, Nigerian, Poland and Pakistan). The selection criteria for these ethnic groups was underpinned by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) report in 2016, which recognised that these are the biggest immigrant communities in Ireland. Each of these groups was represented by 5 participants who identified 4 themselves as immigrant entrepreneurs with a functioning business in Dublin. The rationale for the sample size was underpinned by past phenomenological studies where sample sizes numbering from 3 to 10 were used (Dukes, 1984; Edwards et al., 2006; Edwards, 2006; Lester, 1999; Padilla, 2003; Polkinghome, 1989; Porter; 1999). Similarly, Creswell and Poth (2017) show that participants in a phenomenological study are much narrower (e.g. 5-25). The data was prepared for analysis using NVivo software and was subsequently analysed manually, while the investigation undertaken used Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The analysis of the data identified a number of interesting patterns and ideas that were unrecognised by previous research studies based on the reviewed literature. One of these was the discovery made of ‘enablers’ and ‘threats’ as multifaceted impacts of ethnicity on immigrant entrepreneurial practices. Another finding was that the concept of ethnicity as a genetic component (Afa’anwi-Ma’abo-Che, 2016; Kennedy, 2018) had direct, indirect and remote influence on participants in the study. To enable future researchers to build from this work, a new model was developed which is presented in detail in the latter stages of this thesis. This is the primary contribution to academic knowledge that the thesis makes. The thesis makes an additional valuable theoretical contribution by proposing a more robust definition for entrepreneurship opportunity formation, which is believed to have met the criteria in Low and MacMillan (1988). The thesis advances existing knowledge by highlighting that entrepreneurial ethnocentric ideas, behaviours and attitudes are uniquely identifiable in the career choices of the participants. However, the limitations to this work are also recognised and proposals are offered regarding future research opportunities.


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