Sri Lankan entrepreneurs in Australia: Chance or choice?

Samaratunge, Ramanie, Barrett, Rowena, & Rajapakse, Tissa (2015) Sri Lankan entrepreneurs in Australia: Chance or choice? Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 22(4), pp. 782-796.

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Ethnic entrepreneurship is, and always has been, a means of survival. However, there is limited literature on ethnic entrepreneurship in Australia and therefore, an understanding of ethnic entrepreneurs’ motivations to become self-employed. The purpose of this paper is to report the influential factors in the decision to engage in self-employment through case studies of members of Melbourne’s Sri Lankan community informed by the mixed embeddedness approach.


The mixed embeddedness approach frames the study where the authors examine the motivations for business of five Sri Lankan entrepreneurs. Narratives are used to construct individual case studies, which are then analyzed in terms of the motivations for, resources used and challenges faced on the entrepreneurial journey.


For these ethnic entrepreneurs, their entrepreneurial activity results from a dynamic match between local market opportunities and the specific ethnic resources available to them at the time of founding. The self-employment decision was not prompted by a lack of human capital but an inability to use that human capital in alternative means of employment at specific points in time. Moreover the authors highlight the importance of social and cultural capital as resources used to overcome challenges on the entrepreneurial journey.


In this community, entrepreneurship was not a result of a lack of human capital but how it was utilized in combination with social and cultural capitals in the given opportunity structure. The mixed embeddedness approach enables the uncovering of how ethnic network ties were used in light of the opportunities available to build entrepreneurial activity.

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ID Code: 90203
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Australia, Sri Lanka, Migrants, Ethnic Entrepreneurship, Mixed Embeddedness
DOI: 10.1108/JSBED-09-2013-0127
ISSN: 1462-6004
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Entrepreneurship (150304)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Deposited On: 15 Nov 2015 22:51
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2015 21:39

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