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This research project aims to investigate Amish small businesses in North America to determine their success rate and the factors that explain their vitality. Amish entrepreneurs have developed some 10,000 small businesses despite taboos on motor vehicles, electricity, computers, the internet, and education. A theoretical model consisting of five types of socio‐cultural capital (human, cultural, social, religious, and symbolic) was conceptualized to explain and interpret the success of Amish enterprises. The model includes capital deficits that identify the hurdles that successful enterprises must overcome.
The research employed qualitative ethnographic methods that included participant observation, face‐to‐face interviews with business owners in eight states, and document analysis.
The paper finds that Amish businesses have a success rate above 90 percent, which is much higher than that of other American small businesses. Five types of socio‐cultural capital (human, cultural, social, religious, and symbolic) account for the high success rate of Amish enterprises.
The qualitative methods do not permit quantitative analysis or tracking the performance of businesses over an extended period of time.
Understanding the importance of socio‐cultural capital assets and deficits for business success is critical for entrepreneurs, consultants, and scholars.
The five concepts of socio‐cultural capital assets and deficits are a significant expansion of traditional social capital theory. These concepts offer a rich resource for understanding small business failure and success and merit inclusion in future research. Religious and symbolic capitals are especially pertinent for understanding enterprise building in religious and ethnic communities.
This theory-into-practice article centers on American history through the optics of one religious organization's contestations – the Elim Springs Church of Jesus Christ…
This theory-into-practice article centers on American history through the optics of one religious organization's contestations – the Elim Springs Church of Jesus Christ, or Harshmanites as they are commonly known – with state and society. Secondary students explore the history and myriad responses from citizens and the federal government, which provides insight into what it means to be an American.
Embedded action inquiry (EAI) couples investigation with informed action. This whole-class exploration of 19th and 20th century American history transforms into individual, independent inquiries about related historical and current civil liberty contestations. Students communicate newly generated, fully substantiated understandings first to an academic audience and then to the community.
Teachers direct students' historical reading, thinking and writing toward informed civic participation. Engaging primary and secondary sources spark students' curiosity and scrutiny; writing prompts and scaffolding guide students' text-based articulations.
Harshmanite history, initiated by an iconic leader and maintained by the congregation into its 3rd century, illuminates the best and worst aspects of America. Secondary social studies students can examine emergent, local tensions when citizens' religious freedoms confront civic duty and societal responses. Through EAI, a novel adaptation of inquiry, students make meaning out of the local history and contribute to civic dialogue.