Contextualising ethnic minority entrepreneurship beyond the west: Insights from Belize and Cambodia

Michiel Verver*, David Passenier, Carel Roessingh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Literature on immigrant and ethnic minority entrepreneurship almost exclusively focusses on the west, while neglecting other world regions. This neglect is problematic not only because international migration is on the rise outside the west, but also because it reveals an implicit ethnocentrism and creates particular presumptions about the nature of ethnic minority entrepreneurship that may not be as universally valid as is often presumed. The purpose of this paper is to examine ethnic minority entrepreneurship in non-western contexts to critically assess two of these presumptions, namely that it occurs in the economic margins and within clear ethnic community boundaries. Design/methodology/approach: The authors draw on academic literature (including the authors’ own) to develop two case descriptions of ethnic minority entrepreneurship outside the west: the Mennonites in Belize and the Chinese in Cambodia. For each case, the authors describe the historic entrepreneurial trajectory, i.e. the historical emergence of entrepreneurship in light of relevant community and society contexts. Findings: The two cases reveal that, in contrast to characterisations of ethnic minority entrepreneurship in the west, the Mennonites in Belize and the Chinese in Cambodia have come to comprise the economic upper class, and their business activities are not confined to ethnic community boundaries. Originality/value: The paper is the first to elaborate the importance of studying ethnic minority entrepreneurship outside the west, both as an aim in itself and as a catalyst to work towards a more neutral framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955-973
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2019


  • Belize
  • Cambodia
  • Chinese
  • Context
  • Ethnic minority entrepreneurship
  • Mennonites


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