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In refugees we trust: Exploring social capital formation from scratch
Iannone, Rosa Lisa; Geraudel, Mickaël
2018International Council for Small Business


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ICSB 2018 - Refugees and SC - 2018-05-15.pdf
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Keywords :
Refugees; entrepreneurship; social capital
Abstract :
[en] We are currently witnessing the highest levels of displaced people in history, with close to 66 million in a state of forced migration (UNHCR, 2017). Such numbers have placed a lot of stress on hosting countries to find solutions for both the social and economic integration of these populations, and in particular, refugees (Bloch, 2014; Lyon, Sepulveda & Syrett, 2007; Phillimore & Goodson, 2006). As Ram, Theodorakopoulos and Jones (2008) have suggested, small businesses and entrepreneurships by migrants illustrates their super-diversity, while highlighting an important labour option through which integration and independence may be achieved. Both opportunity-driven and necessity-driven, refugee entrepreneurs opt for selfemployment in their new countries of residence. In a notable contribution to our knowledge on the phenomenon, Sternberg, von Bloh and Brixy (2016) have evidenced that refugees may even be more likely to start businesses than natives. In accordance, they must often build entirely new social capital (SC) prior to business start-up, also as a strategy for overcoming other types of capital disadvantage. Recent studies that consider SC in relation to refugee entrepreneurship (Basok, 1993; van Kooy, 2016; Bizri, 2017; Sandberg, Immonen & Kok, in press) have emphasised the need to build critical contacts in new countries of residence, given the high value and instrumentality weak ties can bring. There is still a dearth of knowledge regarding refugee entrepreneurship in general, and their processes of SC formation for business start-up in particular. To address this lack of insight, we are undertaking a study that examines the processes of nascent entrepreneurs in a central European capital city. The study explores how SC is created in situations where nascent entrepreneurs are forced to ‘start from scratch’. That is, refugees engaging in entrepreneurial activity, who are dependent on relationships when starting their business, but have little or nothing to draw from. Leading from this, the research question undertaken in this study is a processual one: how do refugee entrepreneurs build the SC they require to start their businesses? In this paper, we adopt the threefold perspective of SC, as defined by Nahapiet and Ghoshall (1998): structural, cognitive and relational. Interrelated, the first deals with the discernable features – network ties – that link actors. The cognitive dimension manifests through shared language, narratives and codes, while the latter deals especially with bonds that emerge between actors, associated with trust, trustworthiness, obligations and expectations, as well as identity and identification. Over time, and through repeated and reciprocal interactions, SC ties may strengthen, while “relational embeddedness” extends. The source of SC, the initial formation of SC, examined through values is what we endeavour to examine.
Disciplines :
Strategy & innovation
Author, co-author :
Iannone, Rosa Lisa ;  University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance (FDEF) > Center for Research in Economic Analysis (CREA)
Geraudel, Mickaël  ;  University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance (FDEF) > Center for Research in Economic Analysis (CREA)
External co-authors :
Language :
Title :
In refugees we trust: Exploring social capital formation from scratch
Publication date :
June 2018
Event name :
International Council for Small Business
Event date :
from 24-06-2018 to 29-06-2018
Audience :
Focus Area :
Entrepreneurship and Innovation / Audit
Available on ORBilu :
since 30 June 2018


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