Immigrants’ Entrepreneurial Motivation in Europe: Liabilities and Assets


Purpose: This paper examines how the institutional distance between immigrants’ country of residence and country of origin, as well as the regulative and normative aspects of institutions in immigrants’ country of residence, social context variables and individual psycho-behavioural factors, condition immigrants’ entrepreneurial motivation (i.e., mainly by necessity, by a combination of necessity and opportunity, or mainly by opportunity), which is in contrast to the previous literature on immigrant entrepreneurship that mainly focuses on micro-level factors.

Design/methodology/approach: By using hierarchical linear regression models to test our hypotheses, we analyse 468 first-generation immigrant entrepreneurs settled in 31 European countries using data from the European Working Conditions Survey (6th EWCS; Eurofound, 2015 database) combined with other datasets to derive the macro-level variables (i.e., the Doing Business Project; Hofstede, Hofstede and Minkov, 2010).

Findings: We find that distance in the normative aspects of institutions harms entrepreneurial opportunity motivation. At the same time, however, opportunity motivation is likely to benefit from both the normative aspects of institutions that reduce locals’ opportunity motivation and the distance in the regulative aspects of institutions.

Originality/value: This article analyses immigrant entrepreneurship in Europe, which has been underexamined in the extant literature, and takes into account the micro-, meso- and macro-level factors affecting the entrepreneurial motivation of immigrants in Europe. This analysis responds to the need already highlighted by previous research to include not only micro-level factors but also meso- and macro-level factors in the analysis of immigrant entrepreneurship (Aliaga-Isla and
Rialp, 2013).

Keywords: Immigrant enterpreneur, Institutional distance, Institutions, Liability of foreignness