Abstract

The past decade or so has seen a considerable growth in the use of institutionalist approaches in the field of entrepreneurial studies (Minniti and Levesque, 2008). This led to the emergence of a growing number of studies examining the influence of institutions on entrepreneurship. However, to date, there has been precious little research into whether and how entrepreneurship can influence institutions (Philips and Tracey, 2007). This gap in knowledge can be understood in the context of widely held assumptions (at least until recently) about institutional stability and continuity.

Immigrants are well placed to change institutions by virtue of their pivotal social position that cuts across countries of destination and origin (Porters, 2008). Within this context, this paper sets out to explore the role of immigrant entrepreneurs in the process of institutional change. In doing so, the paper utilises insights from the small number of studies exploring the role of agency (defined broadly rather than entrepreneurship in particular) in influencing institutions. The majority of these studies emanate from sociology, and centre on the concept of Institutional Entrepreneurship (Battilana, 2006).

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