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Migrants: Transnational Entrepreneurs or Entrepreneurial Refugees?


Ever since modern humans migrated from Africa about 130,000 years ago, migrant flows have had a defining impact in shaping the human geography of the modern world. Migration continues to shape contemporary events and debates, and has in recent years been prominent in the media, in policy making and in the academic literature in the aftermaths of the global financial crisis, the Arab Spring, the greying of European and Chinese populations, and following a growing number of climate change fuelled natural disasters.

In order to better inform the debates on these issues, a fresh look is needed - particularly into the relationship between migration and entrepreneurship. Despite the antagonism towards migration in many countries, rising tides of xenophobia, and challenges of assimilation of immigrant communities in many places, it remains widely recognized that migrants can contribute to the economic growth of both their host country and their country of origin in many ways. However, the focus in the literature and policy debates to date has primarily been on migrant workers, and, as such, migrants’ entrepreneurial activities have received limited attention. There is, however, evidence that migrants are more likely to become entrepreneurs than natives in the host country.

Migrant entrepreneurship is not solely comprised of traditional ethnic businesses, but is present in a wide range of sectors. This has led to recognition of transnational entrepreneurship as a potentially important determinant of development and growth. Transnational entrepreneurs often have a unique position in the home country because they have the possibility to accumulate financial, human and social capital abroad and utilize them in their country of origin. This is particularly true for the small and medium sized businesses sector and, therefore, migrants have the potential to help develop domestic markets. On the other hand however, the survival rate of these immigrant businesses are often low and many migrants are considered to be entrepreneurial refugees and in self-employment – and often illegal or informal activities - out of necessity rather than choice. The number of persons employed by transnational entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial refugees is substantial. These potential roles of migrants justify a fresh look and make this an important area for further research.

In light of this, the Maastricht School of Management and the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance are organizing a two day workshop to review the state of the art with regard to the relationship between migration and entrepreneurship. One day of the workshop will be dedicated to migrant entrepreneurs in the host country and the second to return migrants or transnational entrepreneurs in the home country.

Workshop topics include
• What do we know about the role of migrant entrepreneurs in economic growth and development?
• What are the determinants of migrant entrepreneurship?
• How can host and home country policies encourage migrant entrepreneurs or promote the benefits of migrant entrepreneurs?
• How do migrant entrepreneurs overcome obstacles in their host countries, and what lessons can be learned from successful cases?
• What does the rising number of field experiments tell us about migrant entrepreneurship?
• When and how can migrant entrepreneurship lead to unproductive and destructive activities?
• How does migrant entrepreneurship differ between regions and countries?
• What are the relationships between migrant entrepreneurship, international trade and investment flows?
• Is migration from the Middle East a viable solution to re-energize stagnant European labour markets and small business sectors?
• Can the African Diaspora be a catalyst for entrepreneurial development in the continent?

Invitation to Submit Papers
Papers are invited on the topics listed above and on related topics in the field of entrepreneurship and migration. The deadline for submissions of abstracts is 28 February 2013. Abstracts should be accompanied by a CV. All abstracts will be reviewed by a selection panel. Preference will be given to new papers since all papers selected for presentation will be considered for a special publication on the topic. Accepted papers are due by 30 April 2013. There is no registration fee. The workshop will be held at Maastricht School of Management, Maastricht, The Netherlands, from 30 – 31 May 2013.

Submissions should be sent to: migrant@msm.nl before or on 28 February 2013.

For further information please visit http://research.msm.nl/Events/Events/Upcoming-Events/CALL-FOR-PAPERS.aspx#.UR_nh1pp74Q

The International Masters in Economy, State and Society (IMESS)
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