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  • Marlene Orozco

An Ethnic Strategies of Business Action Framework

Updated: Jul 13

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



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