Franchising ethnic entrepreneurship: Immigrant business owners and an alternative economic model

Pawan Dhingra, Jennifer Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose - This study considers an under-explored pathway of immigrant business expansion beyond contemporary models of ethnic entrepreneurship. Methodology/approach - We push against dominant theories of immigrant adaptation and small business, such as assimilation theory, to explain a rise of franchised small businesses among Indian Americans. We combine two cases on Indian American small business ownership, based on years of qualitative fieldwork each. Findings - Indian Americans have forged a new path of immigrant business growth beyond either enclave or middleman minority businesses. The growth of franchised stores by immigrants remains underexplored in the immigration and work literature. Their growth in the industry signals a type of mobility, by moving more into corporate models of business ownership and performance. Yet, their success has depended on many of the same mechanisms that define lower end, informal ethnic businesses, such as a reliance on ethnic social capital for information and financing, strategies to avoid racism, co-ethnic labor, and the like. Research limitations - Like any qualitative study, it is limited by its lack of breadth. But, given that it combines two cases, it compensates for this challenge more than otherwise. Originality/value - This chapter furthers the argument that immigrant mobility does not necessarily mean assimilation and in fact can represent a collective response against assimilationist tendencies. This continued collective strategy to mobility is all the more necessary in the face of neoliberal economic models that place greater burdens on individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-252
Number of pages22
JournalResearch in the Sociology of Work
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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