Precarious migrant entrepreneurship: gendered in-work poverty for new migrants in the UK

Dr Maria Villares-Varela and Carolynn Low, University of Southampton

This research project considers whether self-employment is a path towards social and occupational mobility for migrant entrepreneurs, as previously theorised in the field, or entrapment in low-value, low-pay sectors. It puts gendered experiences of work at the centre of the project by highlighting the implications for men and women of precarious self-employment (low paid/low valued) and the support available to them. These considerations are an overlooked topic in management studies, migrant entrepreneurship and industrial sociology more broadly. Drawing on qualitative biographical interviews with migrant entrepreneurs, the findings from this pilot project will provide key preliminary findings that will contribute to broader debates in the areas of in-work poverty, marginalised workers, migrant entrepreneurship, and gender inequalities. The project will also provide useful information for policy initiatives geared to support business creation and growth for migrants by shedding light onto the constraints of entrepreneurship that may lead to the worsening of the quality of employment and gender equality for migrant business owners. 

The Dream of the Dram: Placemaking Through Rural Entrepreneurship in the Scottish Whisky Industry

Dr Shannon Harris, Dr Frank Siedlok and Dr Ziad Elsahn, Heriot Watt University

Within the context of rural entrepreneurship, we have developed an understanding of the hardships faced by ventures operating within remote areas. Issues such as lack of finance and unreliable infrastructure plague efficient operations and venture performance. However, even when facing such obstacles, ventures in these places often play an important role in community development, providing opportunities for employment, reducing inequalities, and alleviating poverty. As such, there is a call to consider the interactive nature of place and entrepreneurship, examining the role of rural entrepreneurs in creatively transforming their spatial contexts. To do so, this project examines the entrepreneurial placemaking of rural entrepreneurs in the Scottish whisky industry. Placemaking refers to a participatory process through which spaces are collectively shaped by diverse actors to maximise shared value. We focus on rural entrepreneurs as important place-makers who, through their entrepreneurial activities, imagine new meanings of place and redefine sustainable development by mobilising spatial dimensions. A Scottish whisky distillery is an effective research setting as the industry is experiencing ongoing transformation focused on sustainable economic and environmental development. These distilleries are often associated with a sense of heritage and provenance, providing opportunities to explore placemaking processes. We aim to capture rural entrepreneurs’ placemaking processes to inform academics and practitioners how to better incorporate characteristics of place into our understanding of this phenomenon and the impact this has on community resilience and sustainability.

Place-based Support for Rural Craft Entrepreneuring – How Does Context Matter?

Dr Inge Hill, Professor Richard Blundel and Professor Emma Bell, The Open University

Rooted inprocess-relational ontology, this research investigates how business support is provided to creative firms in rural areas, with focus on craft businesses. It asks how context matters for place-based business support of rural craft entrepreneuring. Drawing on two comparative case studies in rural locations in England and Scotland,  this project develops a framework for discovering how business support unfolds, focusing on micro-exchange processes in business advice situations. The research applies an ethnographic research design, combining action research techniques with interviews of groups and individuals; the data analysis uses inductive thematic analysis. The project will identify key features of effective place-based strategic business support to develop resilient rural craft micro-businesses, both online and face-to-face. Through this knowledge transfer, the project will deliver long-term impact by offering a tool for business advisers,