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Should enterprise support for ethnic minority firms be configured along ethnic lines? This question has confronted many officers engaged in the “enterprise industry”, as…
Should enterprise support for ethnic minority firms be configured along ethnic lines? This question has confronted many officers engaged in the “enterprise industry”, as they grapple with the task of supporting the increasingly significant phenomenon of ethnic minority entrepreneurship. The situation is complicated by the markedly different experiences of ethnic minority groups in business; the apparently low take‐up of existing services; and wider debates in the policy world encouraging the “integration” of business support activities. Policy initiatives to support ethnic minority businesses have had to engage with such issues; but rarely have they been documented. This paper assesses the experience in a Midlands city of AsCo, a Pakistani‐dominated business group that is attempting to “bridge the gap” between South Asians in the retail sector and the providers of business services. The paper is distinctive in a number of respects: The issue of practical enterprise support provision for South Asian firms has rarely been subject to academic scrutiny. Hence, the paper provides a rare case study of this process in action; The design of the initiative was a genuinely collaborative endeavour involving the researchers, policy makers (the local Training and Enterprise Council) and small businesses in AsCo. Indeed, the research was commissioned by the local Training and Enterprise Council (TEC) and AsCo; A methodologically heterogeneous approach is adopted. This involved in‐depth qualitative interviews with 25 member businesses of AsCo (out of a total membership of 80); ten interviews with non‐members; observations of a number of AsCo executive committee meetings; interviews with key TEC officers; and an insider’s view (the second author) of how the research has actually informed TEC policy.
The purpose of this paper is to assess ways in which informality can be understood and reviews an emerging area of management scholarship. The origins and nature of…
The purpose of this paper is to assess ways in which informality can be understood and reviews an emerging area of management scholarship. The origins and nature of informality are discussed with the aid of two different theoretical tools: “workplace sociology” (WS) and “mixed embeddedness” (ME).
The analysis is grounded in empirical material reflecting different aspects of informality mainly within the ethnic economy, such as a study on the implementation of the National Minimum Wage regulations (Ram et al., 2007; Jones et al., 2004, 2006).
The authors argue that the combination of WS and ME provides a valuable means of content and character of informality. It can also help to explaining variations and patterns within the informal economy, as well as understanding new forms of informality in the ethnic economy and beyond in “superdiverse” contexts.
This paper bridges two different theoretical approaches to explain the interactions between the firm and state regulations, as well as the workplace relations between employer and employees.
Through the medium of a case study of Birmingham’s ethnic minority‐owned independent restaurant sector, the nature of training in the firms, the reasons for informal…
Through the medium of a case study of Birmingham’s ethnic minority‐owned independent restaurant sector, the nature of training in the firms, the reasons for informal training, and employees’ tolerance of harsh working conditions are examined. The reluctance of many small businesses to utilise formal programmes of training is confirmed. However, even in this sector, which is characterised by poor personnel practices, the importance of informal approaches to training and learning is noteworthy. Moreover, from the perspective of workers, employment in the ethnic minority business sector can be seen as a form of training in itself; it can constitute an “apprenticeship” for entrepreneurship rather than permanent entrapment in low‐paid work. However, the capacity to realise this goal is contingent upon the availability of class resources. Further research is needed to explore approaches to training in other sectors that ethnic minorities are engaged in.
It is widely accepted that many ethnic minority firms continue to rely on their own community for their survival, and that growth is only likely to be achieved by tapping…
It is widely accepted that many ethnic minority firms continue to rely on their own community for their survival, and that growth is only likely to be achieved by tapping into wider markets. In short, ‘break‐out’, which is the focus of this paper, is critical to ethnic minority firms' survival and development. Using a combination of consultancy and qualitative approaches, the progress of three ethnic minority businesses over a twelve month period in pursuing such a development strategy is reported on. The findings shed light on the marketing approaches of such firms; the feasibility of break‐out; the management implications of such a process; and the lessons for business support agencies.
Small professional service firms constitute an important segment of the small business population. Explanations of the emergence, employment potential and economic…
Small professional service firms constitute an important segment of the small business population. Explanations of the emergence, employment potential and economic contribution of such firms have been much debated. Yet, comparatively little is known of the “people dimension” in such enterprises, particularly in firms undergoing some form of organisational transition. This paper aims to examine the interplay of work relations and “growth” in the particular case of WhitCo (an organisation that was attempting the transition from its entrepreneurial beginnings to a more formally configured set‐up). The study, which is based on an ethnographic investigation in the case firm over a year‐long period, addresses three issues: the motivations for growth in the small professional service firm; the manner in which attempts at organisational transition impinge upon “collegial” patterns of work relations typical in these firms; and the importance of interpersonal relations to “growth”. The study provides a rare insight into the management of social relations within a firm typical of many in the business services sector. It highlights the critical role of “people management” to shaping the trajectory of small firm growth.
Discusses whether ethnic minority enterprise is a routinely rational economics activity, no different from other small‐scale endeavours, or whether it is a distinctive…
Discusses whether ethnic minority enterprise is a routinely rational economics activity, no different from other small‐scale endeavours, or whether it is a distinctive phenomenon which demonstrates the influence of cultural resources on entrepreneurial activities. Focuses on three themes which have emerged from British‐based studies on ethnic minority businesses: diversity; the importance of “break‐out”; and increased policy activity. Concludes that ethnic‐minority owned business provides a significant contribution to small business activity and the economy, and as such it merits further study. Identifies areas where there is scope for further study as new processes and development strategies are evolved in ethnic minority enterprise.
This chapter is concerned with access to bank finance by ethnic minority businesses (EMBs) in the U.K., focusing particularly on the process of decision-making by bank…
This chapter is concerned with access to bank finance by ethnic minority businesses (EMBs) in the U.K., focusing particularly on the process of decision-making by bank managers with respect to credit applications by entrepreneurs from ethnic minority groups. The results reported in this chapter are taken from a major U.K. study that included two large scale surveys of EMB owners and a white control group, case studies with ethnic minority entrepreneurs and a programme of interviews with business support agencies. Whilst referring to other evidence, this chapter focuses on the findings from a series of interviews with bank representatives. The U.K. study was funded by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), the Bank of England and the Small Business Service and supported by the Commission for Racial Equality.
This paper seeks to examine the influence of the national minimum wage (NMW) in the UK to small business owners operating in the informal economy.
Using the clothing and restaurant sectors as a context, the responses of ethnic minority employers operating in the informal economy are examined in the light of market and regulatory change (notably, the NMW). Case studies are undertaken with 17 business owners and their workers. Given the sensitivity of the information required (reasons for non‐compliance; avoidance strategies; labour use), industry “insiders” were deployed to gain access.
The findings highlight considerable diversity in employer responses, despite the focus on two comparative narrow market sectors. This has implications for both neo‐liberal approaches to the informal economy, and the so‐called “marginalisation” thesis.
Provides an insight into a neglected segment of the informal economy. Future studies should look at wider range of sectors and compare the experiences of different ethnic minority groups.
This paper demonstrates why extant policy initiatives designed to formalise informal work face major structural barriers. Further, the informal economy is much more widespread than policy discourse suggests, thus accentuating the challenge for policy‐makers.
Extant literature on informal economy tends to be “race‐blind” and rarely linked to the sphere of employment relations. This paper helps to fill both of these gaps.
The growing participation of ethnic minorities in self‐employmenthas been a conspicuous feature of the small business scene in manyEuropean countries. Reports on a…
The growing participation of ethnic minorities in self‐employment has been a conspicuous feature of the small business scene in many European countries. Reports on a comparative examination of entrepreneurship among ten Maghrebian businesses in Lyon, France and ten mainly Pakistani businesses in Birmingham, England. Considers the motivating factors for entrepreneurship, the financing of the firms and their markets. The division of labour by gender in each firm was also considered as well as the wider institutional and political contexts in which they operate in the two countries. Of overriding significance are the similarities between the firms in terms of motivation, markets and the importance of family labour, despite differences between national policies towards “ethnic minorities”.
The often‐dynamic presence of South Asians in particular economic activities has prompted ambivalent responses from policymakers. For some, there is encouragement to…
The often‐dynamic presence of South Asians in particular economic activities has prompted ambivalent responses from policymakers. For some, there is encouragement to “break out” from ethnic niche businesses like lower‐order retailing and catering. Another ploy is to promote a strategy of “‘ethnic advantage” by exploiting “cultural” features of a particular community. Examples include the marketing of what can be termed “ethnic enclaves” like “Chinatown” in Manchester and “Little Italy” in Boston (USA). This paper reports on an initiative to exploit the tourist potential of South Asian cuisine by developing a “Balti Quarter” in Birmingham. The results highlight a number of key issues involved in operationalising this increasingly popular strategy. First, the unitarist conceptualisation of the notion of an ethnic enclave obscures the harshly competitive environment that small ethnic minority firms like those in the “Balti Quarter” have to operate in. Second, the often ad hoc way in which such inner city areas are regulated (through planning guidelines) can intensify the competitive pressures facing many firms in the area. Finally, the “external” focus of the initiative runs the risk of masking chronic issues within the firm (e.g. poor working environments) which policymakers should be equally concerned with.