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Explaining variations in business performance among immigrant entrepreneurs in Canada

This paper seeks to explain the self-reported business performance of entrepreneurs who entered Canada through the Business Immigration Programme. The study draws upon a detailed face-to-face questionnaire with 90 entrepreneurs in Vancouver, a third each from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea. As suggested by the mixed-embeddedness model, state regulations provided a significant context for the economic actions of immigrant entrepreneurs. But opportunities were also narrowed by a perceived precariousness in the regional market. Overall, business performance was weak for entrepreneurs, despite significant pre-migration resources. Some factors regarded as encouraging entrepreneurialism were also important in shaping business outcomes. Human capital, though not the scale of investment capital, influenced business success. Consistent with European research, the ethnic enclave economy imposed a penalty on outcomes. Inter-ethnic variation was significant, with Korean-Canadians, who disproportionately sought mainstream markets, by far the most successful of the three groups. In addition they were less involved in transnational business activities, which seemed to compete with, rather than complement, Canadian enterprise.