Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Transition / MigranTrans


Immigrants and people with a migration background make an increasingly important contribution to the founding landscape of Germany. According to studies, more than half of the annual start-ups are managed by immigrants. Since the willingness to establish a business in Germany is still restrained, it is immigrant entrepreneurs who often have the courage and the willingness to take risks to make the leap into self-employment. Not only their migration history, but also the fact that some of them have already pursued entrepreneurial activities in their home country, prompt them to found. Yet, what is unified under the term of "immigrant economy" is a heterogeneous phenomenon that requires more insight - especially in relation to the founding behaviour of immigrant entrepreneurs.

In addition, the immigrant economy has been subject to major changes over the past few decades due to the effects of new types of migration processes, digitalization, social tolerance (which is currently on the decline), as well as the development of future sectors and innovative business models. There are e.g. increasing number of start-ups in technical and service-oriented industries (Keyword: Digital Entrepreneurship), as well as a significant shift away from traditional industries such as food services and retail or trade. In addition, although the second and even third generation of immigrants often no longer see themselves as part of the immigrant economy, they still orient themselves towards the founding behavior of the previous generations. For example, studies found that even the "young" generation of immigrants prefer to start businesses in groups (often family members and friends) rather than alone. Other studies report that trust in public institutions (such as banks) is still lower among the immigrant founders and tends to rely on family or community-based sources of funding. Differences also have to be made between the ethnic groups and the immigrant groups themselves. EU immigrants “do business” differently in comparison to e.g. third-countries nationals, who still see themselves confronted with other barriers to entry to self-employment. On the positive side, immigrant founders contribute to the creation of jobs on the one hand and to regional social capital on the other, due to their education and cooperative tendencies.

The aim of the project funded by the Research Funds of the Westphalian University is a comparative study of the transition processes of the immigrant economy in Germany between then (1960) and today, which provides a deeper insight into the practice (motives, behaviors, barriers, etc.) of the target group. The core of the project is the status quo analysis of immigrant start-up behavior for comparability with existent founding patterns of immigrants from the past in terms of sectors, business models, financing, networks, gender, ethnicity and EU migrants / third-country nationals.

Project procedure:

(1) Conducting a written survey of immigrant entrepreneurs with the support of established networks;

(2) Supplementary evaluation of secondary studies in the subject area up to the 1960s;

(3) Narrative interviews with immigrant founders who are currently in the start-up phase or have built a business in the past 5 years;

(4) Narrative interviews with established immigrant entrepreneurs who run a business for more than 10 years;

(5) Expert interviews with intermediaries such as Representatives of the Association of Turkish Entrepreneurs, IHKs / HKs, Chambers of Crafts from the field of "immigrant entrepreneurship"