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Italy’s new immigrant entrepreneurship: The paths of development of this new phenomenon

Al Shawwa, Haya (2012) Italy’s new immigrant entrepreneurship: The paths of development of this new phenomenon. PhD Thesis , Università degli studi di Ferrara.

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    This study explores the evolution of the phenomenon of new immigrant entrepreneurship, tracing its paths of development, in order to develop new lines of analysis, reflections, and hypothesis of relevant policies and procedures in the light of future trends. Over the last years, Italy and many other European countries have witnessed a profound evolution in the migration process, and a relentless growth of immigrant entrepreneurial initiatives, together with the economic transformations that have affected the world of employment and economic development opportunities. Until today, most academic research focused on the traditional term "migrant worker". This work intends to explore a different line of research: to study that portion of immigrants who choose to run their own businesses, becoming owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It furthermore aims to understand the dynamics and characteristics of these enterprises, how they differ from native ones, analyzing the socio-economic relations that they create with the other economic players in the territory. This dissertation commences with a theoretical framework of international migration, which is followed by a focus on the Italian migratory background, aimed at understanding the roots and basis for this entrepreneurial leap. The following chapter provides an in-depth theoretical analysis of the "immigrant/ethnic entrepreneurship" phenomenon. It begins with a close examination of various definitions and distinctions, stating in particular the difference between "ethnic entrepreneurship" and "immigrant entrepreneurship". The following section focuses on the crucial transformations that occurred in the manufacturing sector and labor market history, particularly from the seventies until today, with the emergence of the post-Fordist system. It seeks to explain the reasons that motivated immigrants towards this entrepreneurial shift. This chapter is moreover enriched with an analysis of different theoretical approaches, which are mainly of a cultural and/or structural nature. The third chapter explores the dynamics of this phenomenon in Italy, theoretically and statistically. Non-trivial figures emerge that confirm the relevance of this new event, and that highlights the existence of a close link between immigrant entrepreneurship and economic development, but on the other side show how this is backed up by “specific” policy interventions which are rather weak. The final chapter focuses on the case study that carefully analyzes the evolution of business conduct of Chinese entrepreneurs in the textile, clothing and leather industry in the province of Ferrara, with the intent to connect the findings of this study with the theoretical approaches explored in chapter II. The main results clearly show that this case-study can be explained under the mixed embeddedness model, where the determinant elements of this phenomenon are a result of a blend of both cultural and structural factors. Moreover, findings give evidence to an initial phase of an “ethnic niche”. Further elements are explored such the employment context, the economic activities that take place, and all these dynamics intertwined and analyzed together within the territory. Furthermore, a significant fact emerges, the economic and financial crisis that hit the economy in late 2008, has affected to a similar extent both enterprises, Chinese-run and Italian-run ones. However, responses and reactions to such crisis were decisively different. Chinese-owned have shown a greater level of dynamism and flexibility, combined with an expansion of their economic activities within the sector. One of the main findings of this study provide evidence that this new phenomenon is playing a key role in the economy’s demand and supply. Public intervention is still considered weak in the time where future challenges and potentials of such businesses are expected to grow further.

    Item Type:Thesis (PhD Thesis)
    Date:29 March 2012
    Tutor:Poma, Lucio
    Coordinator:Mazzanti, Massimiliano
    Institution:Università degli studi di Ferrara
    PhD:XXIV Anno 2009 > ECONOMIA
    Divisions:Dipartimento > Economia, istituzioni, territorio
    Subjects:Area 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche > SECS-P/06 Economia applicata
    Uncontrolled Keywords:immigrant entrepreneurship, ethnic, immigration, cultural, structural, environment, territory, local, development
    Deposited on:25 Feb 2013 14:53


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