The latin american entrepreneur in the United Kingdom: an exploration of the factors driving the formation of the migrant enclave economy and its influence on the community
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Silva, M. (2013) The latin american entrepreneur in the United Kingdom: an exploration of the factors driving the formation of the migrant enclave economy and its influence on the community, no. 350.
This thesis is an exploratory study into the decision-making process of Latin American migrants in the United Kingdom identifying common trends in the factors that drive the formation of migrant enclave economies, including the decisions to migrate, start a business and strategies to resource it from within the network. For the past fifteen years Latin American migration to the UK has steadily grown in numbers and unlike their predecessors who came to the UK as political refugees, these individuals are mostly economic migrants attracted by the low levels of unemployment and earnings which they can remit to their families in their countries of origin. This community like many other new migrant groups in the UK remains largely under-researched and 'invisible' therefore vulnerable to exclusion, discrimination and exploitation. Using a qualitative methodological approach including 20 in-depth interviews and 113 completed surveys, this research found evidence in the Latin American migrants of a process of arrival and settlement in which there is a dependency on informal networks through migration, business formation, and access to economic and financial resources. The research found that Latin American migrants followed a 'herding' attitude in terms of their dependency on the networks for information, resources and decision-making in general. This reduced the risks involved in migration and the difficulties finding sources of income. Outside of the network's span of control Latin American migrants were found to have perceptions of discrimination given the economic opportunities available to them mostly in low-wage, manual service jobs. Their common assumption is that this is due to local indifference towards their overseas references and accreditations, their limited English skills or heavily accented pronunciation, or in a few cases prejudices towards foreigners. While the network played a central role in providing information and resources for the decisions, the herding effect caused by perceptions of barriers to opportunities both at their home country and destination were found to be the key driver for migrating, starting a business, and finding the necessary resources. The findings of this research are limited by the 'invisibility' of the Latin American community in the UK: the representativeness of the sample is unknown given there are no records or data on the overall number of Latin American merchants in the UK. Also, since the migration and legal status of these individuals and their ventures is also unknown, it is difficult to validate the information provided by the subjects interviewed and surveyed. The key conclusion for policy makers from these limited findings is that immigration into the UK from Latin America appears to be a process driven by group decisions and shaped by the information and resources of transnational informal networks. To influence it, they must first engage the community in the UK and manage the expectations of potential migrants by taking a more active role in the transfer of information through informal networks.