Strategic coethnicity: Social capital and entrepreneurial strategies of two Ghanaian migrant businesses


Purpose: This paper aims to present two distinct approaches to migrant entrepreneurship. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on ethnography of two Ghanaian migrant businesses, one of which draws on the Ghanaian community and another which distances itself from it, the author shows that the current understandings of social capital romanticise the notion of community. The author argues that to gain a better appreciation of the ways in which community resources are used by migrant entrepreneurs, we would need to reject such romanticised notions. Findings: The ethnography revealed the operation of two entrepreneurial strategies. These, in turn, were shaped by the nature of the migrant community and the resources that entrepreneurs have at their disposal. Research limitations/implications: The limitation of this research is that it draws on only two cases. Focusing on two cases allowed for an in-depth understanding of the mechanisms at play but limits the ability to generalise beyond these two cases. Further research will have to use large-scale survey designs to test the mechanisms which have been identified in this paper. Practical implications: There are multiple, sometimes conflicting, tendencies in any specific entrepreneurial context, and the author proposes that this configuration of factors leads to the dominance of one or the other entrepreneurial approach. Social implications: Underlying these dynamics is an attempt to reconcile the demands of two competing tendencies within the entrepreneurial context: the profit motive versus the community spirit. Originality/value: The author concludes with a brief discussion of concept of strategic coethnicity by which this dilemma can be solved

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This paper was published in Toulouse 1 Capitole Publications.

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