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Imitation in immigrant entrepreneurship: an analytical framework

Beata Glinka (Faculty of Management, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland)
Przemysław G. Hensel (Faculty of Management, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 24 June 2020

Issue publication date: 20 May 2021




The phenomenon of imitation has attracted immense attention in studies of big companies, but it has been largely neglected in the immigrant entrepreneurship research thus far. The purpose of this paper is to address that gap by proposing a theoretical framework for studying immigrant entrepreneurship imitation decisions.


The framework is based on a review of relevant literature covering the issue of imitation within three perspectives: institutional, heuristics of judgement and organisational learning. We validate the framework by juxtaposing it with existing studies on immigrant entrepreneurship, where imitation practices were directly and indirectly referred to. The framework is also initially validated with data from three qualitative studies performed by the authors.


The literature-derived framework consists of three major building blocks (i.e. causes, target and content of imitation) while immigrant-entrepreneurship specificity (ethnic groups and clusters, ethnic identity, generation, and resources) constitutes the context of the framework. The authors formulate 12 propositions on which the framework is based. The specific character of immigrant entrepreneurs' imitation decision is discussed, and differences in that regard between immigrant entrepreneurs and established local businesses are highlighted.

Research limitations/implications

A more diversified sample and quantitative studies are needed to further verify the proposed framework and propositions.

Social implications

The framework is intended to expedite future research on immigrant entrepreneurs' imitative decisions and facilitate better-adjusted public policy to support immigrant entrepreneurs.


This paper drives attention to a widely used, yet understudied phenomenon of imitation, provides an analytical framework for the study of imitation in immigrant entrepreneurship, provides a preliminary validation of the framework and contributes to a better understanding of immigrant behaviour.



This work was partially supported by the National Science Centre in Poland grant “Immigrant Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial activities of Immigrants from the Far East in Poland”, UMO-2016/21/B/HS4/00767. The authors also want to thank the research team for data collection.


Glinka, B. and Hensel, P.G. (2021), "Imitation in immigrant entrepreneurship: an analytical framework", Management Decision, Vol. 59 No. 5, pp. 1043-1068.



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