Title: Ethnic entrepreneurship in a multicultural context: regional development and the unintended lock-in effects

Authors: Ethel Brundin, Caroline Wigren, Eslyn Isaacs, Kobus Visser

Addresses: Jonkoping International Business School, Jonkoping, Sweden. ' Centre for Innovation, Research and Competence in the Learning Economy (CIRCLE), Lund University, Sweden. ' University of the Western Cape, South Africa. ' University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Abstract: This article focuses on South Africa, home country for several ethnic groups. In this article ethnic entrepreneurship refers to people who share a common national background with some shared culture and who perceive themselves, and are perceived by others, as separate (Waldinger et al., 1990; Yinger, 1998). The purpose is to illustrate how the ethnicity-driven laws and directives formed by a government that has |bought into| the Western discourse of entrepreneurship and a traditional view on ethnic entrepreneurship create lock-in effects on the individual as well as societal levels. By contrasting this view with the view of ethnic groups as social organisations and the thre perspectives of culture as integration, as differentiation and as fragmentation, we fulfil our purpose. The South African context is introduced to the reader and the paper ends with a discussion where the lock-in effects of ethnic entrepreneurship are brought up: institutional factors, loss of knowledge; a subcultural exchange, a transfer of the Western discourse of entrepreneurship and the lack of a Barthian change agent representing the fragmentation perspective.

Keywords: South Africa; broad-based black economic empowerment; BBBEE; culture; fragmentation; integration; differentiation; Western discourse of entrepreneurship; ethnic entrepreneurship; multicultural context; regional development; lock-in effects; change agents.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2009.025692

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 2009 Vol.8 No.4, pp.449 - 472

Published online: 23 May 2009 *

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