Understanding the gender gap in immigrant entrepreneurship: A multi-country study of immigrants’ embeddedness in economic, social, and institutional contexts

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Given the rising rate of migration across the globe, immigrant entrepreneurship is more than ever a topic of high theoretical and practical relevance. Immigrant entrepreneurship can offer host societies a win-win situation, generating incomes for immigrant entrepreneurs and contributing to knowledge transfer, innovativeness, and economic growth within the host economy. However, studies reveal that immigrant entrepreneurship is primarily male dominated and our understanding of the drivers and contextual factors that explain the gender gap is limited. Based on the mixed embeddedness approach, this multi-country study investigates the effects of immigrants’ embeddedness in supportive economic, social, and institutional environmental conditions on the gender gap in immigrant entrepreneurship. Our key findings are threefold: First, the results confirm that a gender gap in immigrant entrepreneurship exists. Female immigrants, compared with their male counterparts, are less likely to start and run their own business. Second, the results reveal that female immigrant entrepreneurship is encouraged by a supportive entrepreneurial environment, showing that policy can enhance female immigrant entrepreneurship through supportive conditions. Third, we find the same pattern of results for forced immigrants and opposite results for natives, suggesting that entrepreneurship is a “Plan A” employment strategy for (forced) female immigrants, whereas it is only a “Plan B” employment strategy for female natives.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1007-1031
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 02.2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Sameeksha Desai and the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments, criticism, and suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Entrepreneurship - Immigrant entrepreneurship, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
  • Gender and Diversity - female entrepreneurship, Mixed embeddedness, multi-country study, Gender