An Ethnic Strategies of Business Action Framework
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
A paper published in the Small Business Economics Journal on how ethnicity shapes the organizing structure of a business.
Ethnicity not only shapes pathways to entry into entrepreneurship but also plays an
important role in the organizing structure of the business. Previous research on ethnic
entrepreneurs has focused on niche markets, their coethnic labor supply, and the
spatial concentration of businesses (i.e., enclaves), overlooking the role that ethnicity
plays in business strategies more broadly. I draw on 65 in-depth interviews and
participant observations to examine how business owners make sense of their
ethnoracial identity in the context of their business orientation and market reach. I
propose an ethnic strategies of business action typology of the ways in which an ethnic
identity is strategically invoked in the pursuit of profit. I find that ethnic strategies can
yield benefits as a business strategy but choosing when and how to leverage an ethnic
identity is largely reserved for entrepreneurs who have obtained higher education, the
later generations, and those operating in professional industries. These strategies are
intricately situated within the context of intersectionality and the larger social structure.
Nevertheless, this expanded view of an ethnic economy accounts for socioeconomic
diversity and a growing minority middle class largely unaccounted for in previous
theorization. Understanding the diverse orientation of ethnic business owners provides
empirical leverage to the affirming ethnic strategies in the repertoire of the minority
culture of mobility.
Full article available HERE