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Digital ethnicity affordances: from a liability to an asset in immigrant entrepreneurship

Quang Evansluong (Department of Business Administration, Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden) (School of Economics, Business and Law, Gothenburg Research Institute, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Lena Grip (Institution for Geography, Media and Communication, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden)
Eva Karayianni (School of Business and Management, University of Central Lancashire – Cyprus Campus, Larnaca, Cyprus)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 24 January 2023




This paper aims to understand how immigrant entrepreneurs use digital opportunities to overcome the liability of newness and foreignness and how an immigrant's ethnicity can be digitally performed as an asset in business.


The study adopts an inductive multiple case study approach using social media content. The data consist of over 3,500 posts, images and screenshots from Facebook, Instagram and the webpages of seven successful Vietnamese restaurants in Sweden. Grounded content analysis was conducted using NVivo.


The findings suggest that digitalising ethnic artifacts can mediate and facilitate three digital performances that together can turn ethnicity from a liability to an asset: (i) preserving performance through digital ethnicising, (ii) embracing performance through digital generativitising and (iii) appropriating performance through digital fusionising. The results support the introduction of a conceptual framework depicting the interwoven duality of horizontal and vertical boundary blurring, in which the former takes place between the offline and online spaces of immigrant businesses, and the latter occurs between the home and host country attachment of the immigrant businesses.


This study responds to calls for understanding how immigrant entrepreneurs can overcome the liability of foreignness. It offers a fresh look at ethnicity, which has been seen in a negative light in the field of immigrant entrepreneurship. This study illuminates that ethnicity can be used as a resource in immigrant entrepreneurship, specifically through the use of digital artifacts and digital platforms.



The first author gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Broman Foundation for Research and Entrepreneurship (Grant Numbers: GU 2019/809 and E 2018/181) and from the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE) (Grant Number: 2016-07205).


Evansluong, Q., Grip, L. and Karayianni, E. (2023), "Digital ethnicity affordances: from a liability to an asset in immigrant entrepreneurship", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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