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How do Refugee Entrepreneurs Navigate Institutional Voids? Insights from Malaysia*

Wee Chan Au (Monash University, Malaysia)
Andreana Drencheva (Sheffield University Management School)
Jian Li Yew (Citrine Capital)

Disadvantaged Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

ISBN: 978-1-80071-451-9, eISBN: 978-1-80071-450-2

Publication date: 17 January 2022

Abstract

In this study, the authors develop in-depth understanding of how refugee entrepreneurs navigate institutional voids in market participation in Malaysia. The authors employ an inductive research design consistent with recent research investigating adversity and disadvantaged entrepreneurship. The findings of this study reveal that refugees adopted different, gendered approaches to navigate institutional voids in market participation. The women refugees in this study anchored towards safety by leveraging legitimacy of market intermediaries (e.g. social ventures and refugee support organisations) to gain protection for entrepreneurial activities and access markets while conducting their labour at home. The men refugees in this study engaged in harbouring – concealing entrepreneurial activities in the local community or under others’ identities to protect income-generating opportunities. The findings of this study thus provide nuance and demonstrate plurality in how refugee entrepreneurs navigate institutional voids, contributing towards more holistic understanding of refugee entrepreneurship, offering insights for development agencies, policy-makers, and other institutions on how to support refugees’ entrepreneurial activities.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgement

This study was funded by grant AH/R005354/1.

Citation

Au, W.C., Drencheva, A. and Yew, J.L. (2022), "How do Refugee Entrepreneurs Navigate Institutional Voids? Insights from Malaysia*", Pickernell, D.G., Battisti, M., Dann, Z. and Ekinsmyth, C. (Ed.) Disadvantaged Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem (Contemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research, Vol. 14), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 121-144. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2040-724620220000014006

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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