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“Currying favour with the locals”: Balti owners and business enclaves

Monder Ram (Enterprise Research Centre, University of Central England Business School, Birmingham, UK)
Tahir Abbas (Enterprise Research Centre, University of Central England Business School, Birmingham, UK)
Balihar Sanghera (Enterprise Research Centre, University of Central England Business School, Birmingham, UK)
Guy Hillin (Enterprise Research Centre, University of Central England Business School, Birmingham, UK)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 1 February 2000

Abstract

The often‐dynamic presence of South Asians in particular economic activities has prompted ambivalent responses from policymakers. For some, there is encouragement to “break out” from ethnic niche businesses like lower‐order retailing and catering. Another ploy is to promote a strategy of “‘ethnic advantage” by exploiting “cultural” features of a particular community. Examples include the marketing of what can be termed “ethnic enclaves” like “Chinatown” in Manchester and “Little Italy” in Boston (USA). This paper reports on an initiative to exploit the tourist potential of South Asian cuisine by developing a “Balti Quarter” in Birmingham. The results highlight a number of key issues involved in operationalising this increasingly popular strategy. First, the unitarist conceptualisation of the notion of an ethnic enclave obscures the harshly competitive environment that small ethnic minority firms like those in the “Balti Quarter” have to operate in. Second, the often ad hoc way in which such inner city areas are regulated (through planning guidelines) can intensify the competitive pressures facing many firms in the area. Finally, the “external” focus of the initiative runs the risk of masking chronic issues within the firm (e.g. poor working environments) which policymakers should be equally concerned with.

Keywords

Citation

Ram, M., Abbas, T., Sanghera, B. and Hillin, G. (2000), "“Currying favour with the locals”: Balti owners and business enclaves", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 41-55. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552550010323230

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