A comparison of refugee and non-refugee social entrepreneurs: Towards and understanding of the social entrepreneurial process of refugees

Dieke Marlies Koers-Stuiver, Arend J. Groen, Paula Danskin Englis-Englis

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractOther research output

    Abstract

    INTRODUCTION Across the world millions of people have been forced from their homes due to conflicts, oppression, natural disasters and demographic revolutions. Refugees face many problems when moving to a new country including language, legal and cultural barriers. Almost none of them have a strong network to rely or build upon to help them integrate or start something for themselves. In addition, many often faced traumatic experiences which caused them to flee, let alone the harrowing experience during their journey to a safer place. These events hinder a refugee to find employment. Nevertheless, they want to become independent as quickly as possible and build a new, safe future in the country where have fled. This makes self-employment a valuable alternative. However, little research examines refugee-based entrepreneurship. Specifically, there is a need for research that takes into account the startup and opportunity recognition processes of refugee versus non-refugee entrepreneurs to gain a better understanding of the potential of this type of entrepreneurship. Our paper focuses on the social mission of refugee versus non-refugee entrepreneurs and what influences opportunity recognition and the business development process. We particularly want to understand to what extent refugee entrepreneurs versus non-refugee entrepreneurs are driven by a desire to create social change or social value, and whether this is related to their personal experience. METHOD To gain a better understanding of the social entrepreneurial process of refugees versus non-refugee entrepreneurs, we use participants from a business (pre-)incubator in the Netherlands. We examine to what extent refugee and non-refugee entrepreneurs are driven by social motivations and the desire to create social change. We examine the antecedents for their motivation to start a business and whether this is based on an unmet personal need which they experience themselves. We use a case study design with a mixed-method approach. This includes qualitative (in-depth interviews) and quantitative data (survey research). The detailed survey has been translated by an independent translation firm into three languages: Dutch, English, and Arabic. We also use in-depth interviews to probe for more information based on our survey. Data was collected from three Dutch entrepreneurial training programs. Two programs are specifically targeting refugee entrepreneurs which started or will start in October 2017. Started in April, 2017, the other training program is targeting social entrepreneurs in general. It includes refugees and non-refugees. Data has already been gathered from this program and it will have another round of participants in October 2017. Currently we have a sample size of approximately 67 respondents, of which 23 are refugees. We will continue to collect data till December 2018. For the conference, we expect to have at least sample size of approximately 90 respondents of which approximately half is a refugee. PRELIMINARY RESULTS Based on the data we have collected so far, we performed a factor analysis to measure whether the items we used to measure social entrepreneurship were accurate. The KMO for the social entrepreneurial questions is .79; however, we found that some loadings to the factors were quite low. Since we are working with a small sample size we have chosen to keep the theoretical construct intact and will rerun the analysis when our sample size is bigger. We compared the group of refugee entrepreneurs to the non-refugee entrepreneurs in the training programs to assess to what extent they are driven by a social mission or the desire to create social change. We used the Kolmogorov Smirnov test to compare the distribution of the two groups, and the Mann-Whitney test to examine the difference between the groups. So far we do not see many significant differences between these two groups of entrepreneurs. Our preliminary results indicate that refugees were equally socially oriented as the non-refugee social entrepreneurs. We did not expect this outcome since the social entrepreneurs are selected based on their potential to create social value, whereas the refugee training program is open to all latent refugee entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, we do not see this evidence reflected in the refugee entrepreneurs’ business ideas at the beginning of the training program. In-depth interviews will provide more knowledge of these patterns and processes. We expect that as the sample size increases and we are able to examine the groups across a number of constructs (antecedents to start a business, drivers of social motivations and the desire to create social change, unmet needs, and innovativeness), we gain a better understanding about the mechanisms at work. We will present a more detailed overview of our findings during the conference. DISCUSSION & CONCLUSION We examined the social mission of refugee entrepreneurs and non-refugee entrepreneurs. We were specifically interested in understanding what influences their opportunity recognition and business development process as we want to understand to what extent refugee entrepreneurs are driven by a desire to create social change or social value. We contribute to the literature exploring to what extent refugee entrepreneurs are driven by social motivations and the desire to create social change compared to non-refugee entrepreneurs. We examine the antecedents for their motivation to start a business and whether this is based on an unmet personal need. Preliminary research shows that both refugee entrepreneurs and non-refugee entrepreneurs are driven by their unmet needs in the entrepreneurship process. However, we find differences in the antecedents between these two groups
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages2
    Publication statusIn preparation - 18 Oct 2017
    EventBabson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference, BCERC 2017 - University of Oklahoma, Michael F. Price College of Business, Norman, United States
    Duration: 7 Jun 201710 Jun 2017

    Conference

    ConferenceBabson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference, BCERC 2017
    Abbreviated titleBCERC
    CountryUnited States
    CityNorman
    Period7/06/1710/06/17

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