Exploration of the role of immigrant entrepreneurs in regional entrepreneurial food ecosystems

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Murphy, Anna
Bogue, Joe
O'Flaherty, Brian
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Academic Conferences International Limited
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Entrepreneurship is a key driver of economies through the creation of new opportunities and business ventures. Immigrant entrepreneurs have enriched global economies, particularly in high tech industries (Fairlie, 2008) and face numerous challenges in their host country. For small to medium sized enterprises, strategic networking in entrepreneurial ecosystems, creating rich resources, is vital to minimise these challenges (McAdam and Soetanto, 2018). These entrepreneurial ecosystems consist of interdependent actors and other factors integrated in a way that enables entrepreneurship within a particular region (Stam and Spigel, 2018). The objective of this research is to analyse the factors that contribute to the existence of entrepreneurial ecosystems in the Irish food industry and the types of networking immigrant food entrepreneurs participate in within these ecosystems. This methodology consisted of a quantitative empirical study using a questionnaire administered to immigrant food entrepreneurs in the Munster region of Ireland, selected through purposive sampling. The findings highlighted that these immigrant food entrepreneurs originated from 26 different countries, the majority founded their own business, with some businesses established over 40 years. The existence of different types of entrepreneurial food ecosystems and contrasting success factors are emerging in this research. The support of local farmer's markets and the community spirit with local producers leading to formal and informal networking for exchange knowledge and social engagement is vital for some immigrant food entrepreneurs, with support from entrepreneurial agencies driving the entrepreneurial ecosystem proving a greater importance for others. Entrepreneurial food ecosystems give immigrants, who do not have the same access to the employment market, an opportunity to make a living which was evident in this research where the immigrant food entrepreneurs demonstrated high levels of self-efficacy in terms of their contribution to local economies. Immigrants also enhance diversity in the food industry and give local consumers an opportunity to experience international and ethnic food experiences. This research provides a deeper understanding of immigrant entrepreneurs and their strategic networking and adds to research on how the model of entrepreneurial ecosystems can be utilised to measure the diversity and density of these networks.
Entrepreneurial ecosystems , Food industry , Networking , Immigrant entrepreneurs , Entrepreneurship
Murphy, A., Bogue, J. and O'Flaherty, B. (2020) 'Exploration of the role of immigrant entrepreneurs in regional entrepreneurial food ecosystems', European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Rome, Italy, 17-18 September, pp. 817-823. doi: 10.34190/EIE/20.214
© 2020, the Authors. Published by Academic Conferences International Limited.