Be good with your neighbours: Support networks of immigrant entrepreneurs in a microstate

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


The field of immigrant entrepreneurship has been widely studied along the last decades (Solé & Parella, 2005; Villares- Varela, 2010), contributing to the literature with studies about motivations and strategies of immigrants to start up and develop new entrepreneurial activities in the destination country. Literature about personal and social networks further contributes in this field, emphasizing on the relevance of contacts and support networks for business starting up, development and success (Granovetter, 1983; Valenzuela- García et al., 2014). In this vein, the mixed embeddedness model proposed by Kloosterman, Van der Leun and Rath (1999) postulates the importance of the embeddedness in different institutional, economic and social backgrounds of the host community, as well as in both transnational and local co-national communities. However, all these studies have only been conducted in larger nations, or in particular regions or cities within larger nations (García- Macías, 2013; Solano, 2016; Sommer &Gamper, 2017). Nevertheless, little attention has been paid to microstates so far, which are characterized by a smaller opportunity structure and by distinctive legislative systems. This dissertation is thus focused on businesses managed by immigrants in a microstate, more precisely in the Principality of Andorra. The main purpose of the research is to observe the effects of the particularities of a microstate on the structure and composition of migrant and non-migrant entrepreneurial networks. Thirty three immigrant and ten native entrepreneurs have been interviewed in this research, all of them holding businesses in the Principality of Andorra. Data collection has been based on a semi- structured interviewing, which was combined with some elements of structured interviewing, in order to delineate and analyze the entrepreneurs’ personal support networks. Results show that cross-border support comes mainly from business-oriented collaborations, which mainly provide logistic support. Cross- border contacts need to be differentiate from transnationals, which also provide mainly logistic support, although their aids seem to be of a different nature since transnational relations are settled in a further and unlimited area. In general terms, contacts settled in Andorra provide main support for immigrant entrepreneurs’ networks. This group of contacts is made up by both native Andorrans and non-Andorrans, mainly developing the role of major shareholders, legal/administrative advisers and figureheads. Finally, transnational contacts are more relevant in networks of new immigrant entrepreneurs, those not having created their businesses under legislative restrictions, so they did not found limitations for starting up their ventures. On the other hand, the clearest influence of the small jurisdictional area is the small size of the population, which also implies a small opportunity structure. Entrepreneurs’ networks reveal high density values and therefore low betweenness centralization. This facilitates access to the opportunity structure, although it also make resources of this structure more accessible and thus less exclusive, which could be seen as a limitation for business growth. This highlights the need of adding contacts from different social and geographical backgrounds, regardless of growth stage the business is in or the social group of the entrepreneur. Therefore, both immigrant and cross- border entrepreneurs of this research were found to have a mixed embeddedness in terms of their social networks. This was observed in businesses of all growth stages, since the networks of all the groups show a proportion of natives, compatriots and other immigrants settled in Andorra, as well as a proportion of transnational contacts. Interestingly, not only immigrant networks show mixed embeddedness, but very similar patterns of mixed embeddedness were found among Andorran natives’ networks. This result indicates that this theory is therefore not applicable in microstates, since similar relation patterns exist in both personal networks of immigrants and natives.
Date of Award13 Sept 2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJosé Luis Molina (Director) & Miranda Jessica Lubbers (Director)

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