SU study finds that ethnicity and culture shape, but do not define, entrepreneurship
SU study finds that ethnicity and culture shape, but do not define, entrepreneurshipOctober 18, 2005Carol K. Masiclatclkim@syr.edu
Ethnicity is a contributing-but not overriding-factor in an entrepreneur’s approach to business, according to a study by two Syracuse University faculty members published in the September issue of the Journal of Small Business Management. The study explores the culturally based values involved in creating successful, growing business ventures.
It finds that while some prominent values are based in entrepreneurs’ native cultures, certain core values are shared regardless of cultural origin. The pursuit of entrepreneurial ventures gives rise to certain shared principles, just as cultural influences give rise to certain personal values.
“Each of the individual groups cited values that are generally associated with their particular ethnic backgrounds, such as frugality for the Koreans, risk aversion for the Japanese or hospitality for the Hawaiians,” state authors Michael Morris and Minet Schindehutte. “At the same time, all of them cited values not necessarily related to, and in some cases conflicting with, their ethnic tradition.” The study focused on first-generation entrepreneurs from six ethnic groups within the state of Hawaii: Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, native Hawaiian and Vietnamese.
Participants answered a questionnaire designed to address six key areas including their beliefs, core business practices and reasons for pursuing their own businesses. They were also presented with 46 values and asked to prioritize the five with which they most closely identified. The list of values drew equally from a mix of themes represented in general literature, associated with Asian culture (e.g. hard work, respect for authority and tradition), and associated withthe Western perspective of entrepreneurship (e.g. individualism and wealth). The values that participants cited as conflicting with their cultures were those with a strong emphasis on independence, success, achievement and ambition-values historically associated with entrepreneurship. “We believe that culture matters, but it is less a precedent to entrepreneurship, and instead, is a complex and dynamically interacting factor,” the authors explain.
The Journal of Small Business Management features articles on small business research around the world. It is the official journal of the International Council for Small Business.
Morris holds the Witting Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and is chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises in SU’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management. He has published four books and authored more than 100 articles in academic publications. His recent research interests have included small venture strategy, corporate entrepreneurship, the marketing and entrepreneurship interface and entrepreneurship under adverse conditions. Schindehutte is associate professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises in the Whitman School.