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The evolving motivations of ethnic entrepreneurs

Julie Knight (Regional Economic Studies Institute, Towson University, Towson, Maryland, USA)

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy

ISSN: 1750-6204

Article publication date: 11 May 2015




The purpose of this paper is to understand the motivations and dynamics of Polish small business owners who are living and working in the United Kingdom several years after Poland’s enlargement to the European Union.


The data were collected using semi-structured interviews with 39 Polish migrants, residing in the Cardiff area, in 2008 and 2011. During the 2008 data collection period, 20 interviews were completed, and during the 2011 data collection period, 19 interviews were completed.


The findings highlight that migrants become entrepreneurs for a variety of reasons, blurring the lines between cultural and economic entrepreneurship as well as between necessity and opportunity entrepreneurship. The findings also highlight the changing motivations of the ethnic entrepreneurs over time, particularly when the demand for their product is unsustainable.

Research limitations/implications

The generalisabilty of the research is limited because of the small sample size. In addition, the lack of Polish language skills of the interviewer may have influenced the sampling of the Polish community.

Practical implications

The findings from this article will have an impact on the wider ethnic entrepreneurship literature, migration-based policy and the cultural integration of migrants in the long-term.


This article contributes to the wider literature on ethnic entrepreneurship through considering the migrants’ motivations throughout their entire entrepreneurial period and how these motivations may evolve over time.



Knight, J. (2015), "The evolving motivations of ethnic entrepreneurs", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 114-131.



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