Transnational (immigrant and ethnic) Entrepreneurship School

Relying on two fields of internationalization process literature, namely, immigrant entrepreneur and international business (Figueira-de-Lemos, Johanson & Vahlne, 2011), this school of thought addresses the question of how immigrant entrepreneurs in the host country identify foreign market opportunities. Based primarily on the network perspective (Blankenburg, 1995), with a focus on social network theory and social ties (Patel & Conklin, 2009), some studies in the literature on immigrant entrepreneurs attempt to explore the internationalization process of entrepreneurs (Jean, Tan & Sinkovics, 2011; Mustafa & Chen, 2010). Conversely, international business scholars have spent considerable time and effort on the internationalization process, with major emphasis on the identification of foreign market opportunities, albeit without considered focus on immigrant entrepreneurs (Ellis, 2011; Johnson & Vahlne, 2009).

The school regards the identification of business opportunities in foreign markets as a process whereby an individual identifies “new, innovative solutions to the supply of already existing products and services” (Mathews & Zander, 2007: 393). This process is an important phase of the internationalization process (Hayton, Chandler & DeTienne, 2011). Drawing on network theory, Evers and Knight (2008) and Ellis (2011) examine the processes used by firms to identify foreign market opportunities. They suggest that social ties influence the flow of information about opportunities, and individuals not connected to the network are unable to obtain such information. The limited research on the iimnigrant entrepreneur opportunity identification process provides support for the use of country of origin ethnic and kinship ties (Iyer & Shapiro, 1999; Jean, Tan & Sinkovics, 2011). However, this is yet to be comprehensively explored as highlighted by Ellis (2011: 99): “there is little known about the methods used by entrepreneurs for opportunity recognition ... how these opportunities come to be recognized and exploited is rarely addressed”. This is supported by Chandra, Styles and Wilkinson (2009: 31) as this process “is the beginning of the internationalization process and deserves more systematic research attention than it has so far received because it is the trigger that starts everything off”. The liter- amre remains unclear about the ability of social and kinship ties to facilitate iimnigrant entrepreneur identification of foreign market opportunities. In light of the lack of research and limited understanding, this stream of research contributes to existing literamre by integrating immigrant entrepreneur (Chand & Ghorbani, 2011; Mustafa & Chen, 2010) and IB research (Ellis, 2011; Kontinen & Ojala, 2011) and examines immigrant entrepreneurs’ use of social ties (including ethnic and kinship ties) to identify foreign market opportunities.

Specifically, Smans, Freeman and Thomas (2014) examined how Italian iimnigrant entrepreneurs in Australia identify foreign market opportunities. Australia is an ideal location to examine iimnigrant entrepreneurs due to the long histoiy of iimnigration (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). Approximately one in four Australians is born overseas, with a similar number having at least one parent born overseas. Among developed countries, only Israel has a similar iimnigrant profile (Borooah & Mangan, 2007). The Italian community has been present in Australia for over a century, but, interestingly, the ethnic and familial ties back to the countiy of origin are not the major influence on where they internationalize; rather, the choice is opportunity driven (Smans, Freeman & Thomas, 2014). The extent to which the ethnic diaspora influences these locational choices is among the issues explored in this school and is still not understood.

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