Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research
1997 Edition

SUMMARIES

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY OF SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 

Craig S. Galbraith
Donald R. Latham
Jacqueline Benitez Galbraith

University of North Carolina
Wilmington, NC 28403

Telephone: 910-962-3424
Fax: 910-962-3815

Principal Topics

This study examined differences and similarities in personal characteristics, attitudes, cultural norms, satisfaction, communication and networking between two groups in Southeastern United States: Hispanic entrepreneurs and non-Hispanic entrepreneurs.  We hypothesized that the Hispanic entrepreneurs, typically an individual who has recently migrated into the area, either from Mexico or from a southwestern state in the United States, and subsequently established an entrepreneurial enterprise, is actually a hybrid persona, combining aspects of the traditional notion of the entrepreneur while retaining important cultural characteristics of the Hispanic community.  We also hypothesized that the communication patterns that the Hispanic entrepreneur have within their local community also affects both the likelihood of starting and succeeding in an entrepreneurial activity.

Method

In this empirical study we examined the important differences and similarities of two populations: a) a convenience sample of fifty Hispanic entrepreneurs located in North Carolina and South Carolina and, b) a paired comparison sample of fifty non-Hispanic entrepreneurs in the same region.  The pairing was done to control for regional and industry sector differences, thus a Hispanic entrepreneur in the restaurant sector would be paired with a non-Hispanic entrepreneur in the restaurant sector in the same geographic region.  We also tried to control for the recentness of immigration into the community via the pairing process.

In particular, we explored four broad research questions.  First, what are the differences and similarities in personal characteristics between the two groups?  To examine this research question the survey instrument utilized questions examining a variety of personal characteristics discussed in the entrepreneurship literature including risk taking, need for achievement, control, personal value orientation, and innovativeness.  Second, what, if any, are the differences in satisfaction levels between the two groups?  A series of questions addressing the issue of personal and professional satisfaction, and perception of future satisfaction was developed to examine the second research question.  Third, what are the differences in entrepreneurial strategies, and success of those entrepreneurial strategies?  To examine this research question, survey items which examine type of entrepreneurial activity, including entry strategies and competitive strategies was developed. And fourth, what does the role of communication network, family ties, extended relationship, and overall networking have in determining entrepreneurial activity.

The Hispanic questionnaire was translated into Spanish by a professional translator, and backtranslated into English by another translator to insure consistency between the English and Spanish questionnaire.

Major Findings

Based on preliminary research it appears that the Hispanic entrepreneur shares certain important characteristics with the traditional entrepreneur of the literature, such as risk taking, need for achievement and control.  However, there are other important factors that also appear to influence entrepreneurial activity among Hispanic entrepreneurs.  Most important, the role of prior family involvement in entrepreneurial activity, the class structure of the individual, the breadth of the communication and networking, the ability of the Hispanic to communicate in English appeared to be important criteria for the Hispanic entrepreneur.  We also found evidence that successful Hispanic entrepreneurs were also leaders in their Hispanic community, often holding important leadership roles in the local Catholic church and actively finding employment for other recent immigrants.

Implications

The recent migration of Hispanics into the Southeastern United States has exploded. While most of these immigrants are likely to find employment in the agricultural, or low wage manufacturing and service sectors, a small number are becoming actively involved in entrepreneurial activity, servicing both the Hispanic community and the broader local community.  This study adds an important cultural dimension to the issue of venture formation, and perhaps the integration of a different type of entrepreneur into the local business community as the Hispanic population becomes more established.
 

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Last Updated 03/20/98