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High skilled migrant entrepreneurship in the technology sector: business accelerators and the opportunity structure

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posted on 2023-06-09, 17:45 authored by Alia Noor
Situated at the intersection of migrant entrepreneurship and high-tech entrepreneurship studies, this thesis examines the ways in which entrepreneurs negotiate their experiences using business accelerators officially endorsed by the British Government. To do so, this research uses a ‘mixed embeddedness’ framework due to its relational nature, whereby both structure and agency are taken into account. However, due to its lack of specificity on resources and institutions within the tech sector, this research also draws on the concept of the ‘entrepreneurial ecosystem’. Drawing empirically on interviews with 45 entrepreneurs who have taken part in the aforesaid business accelerator programmes in the United Kingdom between 2011 and 2016, the thesis finds that the business accelerators shape the structure of opportunities available to high-tech entrepreneurs at the macro, meso and micro levels. At the macro level, accelerators are one of the few remaining routes for new migrants to start a business, highlighting a selective migration regime where legislation also invariably dictates the kinds of businesses it prefers. However, through ‘accelerator hopping’, entrepreneurs actively used them to gain quick access to new markets, thereby shaping the opportunity structure at the meso level. And at the micro level, business accelerators were seen to provide access to resources. Nevertheless, going back once again to the macro level, it was witnessed that the entrepreneurs’ ability to draw on those accelerator-provided resources were constrained by how accessible the rest of the institutionally embedded opportunity structure that accelerators are a part of, actually was. The findings of all the chapters taken together highlight the need for broadening our understanding of institutional frameworks that shape opportunity structures as being ‘mostly national in character’. The thesis highlights that the entrepreneurs operate in transnational social spaces which have been mediated through the use of business accelerators. This has indirectly led to the creation of a kind of transnational entrepreneurship which goes beyond the entrepreneur’s ties between home and host country, or even diaspora based linkages. Accordingly, the thesis also questions whether the heavy focus on accelerators as important ecosystem actors is warranted. Furthermore, the research indirectly has implications towards understandings of migrant integration, as the broader opportunity structure thus created makes for an entrepreneurship which can now be truly borderless


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