Ethnicity and culture shape but do not define entrepreneurship

September 15, 2005

A study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Small Business Management explores the culturally-based values involved in creating successful, growing business ventures. While some prominent values were found to be based from the entrepreneur's native culture, they each share certain core values regardless of their cultural origin. Just as culture influenced their personal values, so did the pursuit of entrepreneurial ventures give rise to certain shared principles. "Each of the individual groups cited values that are generally associated with their particular ethnic backgrounds, such as frugality for the Koreans, risk aversion for the Japanese, or hospitality for the Hawaiians," authors Michael Morris and Minet Schindehutte state. "At the same time, all of them cited values not necessarily related to, and in some cases conflicting with, their ethnic tradition." The study focused on first generation entrepreneurs from six ethnic groups within the state of Hawaii: Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Native Hawaiian.

Participants answered a questionnaire designed to answer six key areas including their beliefs, core business practices, and reasons for pursuing their own businesses. They were also presented with forty-six values and asked to prioritize the five with which they most closely identified. These values represented an equal mix emphasized in general literature, associated with Asian culture, e.g. hard work, respect for authority and tradition, and associated with the Western perspective of entrepreneurship, e.g. individualism and wealth. The aforementioned cited values that conflicted with their cultures were those with a strong emphasis on independence, success, achievement, and ambition- ones historically associated with entrepreneurship. "We believe that culture matters, but it is less a precedent to entrepreneurship, and instead, is a complex and dynamically interacting factor," the authors explain.
This article is published in the September issue of Journal of Small Business Management. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article, please email

The Journal of Small Business Management features articles on small business research around the world. This quarterly journal covers many topics of interest to researchers and educators, as well as practitioners, in the fields of entrepreneurship and small business. It is the official journal of the International Council for Small Business.

Michael Morris holds the Witting Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship, and is Chairman of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises, at Syracuse University. He has published four books and authored over one hundred articles in academic publications. His recent research interests have included small venture strategy, corporate entrepreneurship, the marketing and entrepreneurship interface, and entrepreneurship under adverse conditions. Dr. Morris is available for media questions and interviews.

Chandra Mishra is the editor of Journal of Small Business Management and Office Depot Eminent Scholar Chair in Small Business Research and Professor at the College of Business at Florida Atlantic University. Professor Mishra is available for media questions and interviews.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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