Exploring transnational entrepreneurship among Albanian migrants and returnees

Barjaba, Joniada (2019) Exploring transnational entrepreneurship among Albanian migrants and returnees. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The overall aim of the thesis is to generate new knowledge, including primary empirical data, in order to enhance understanding of the phenomenon of migrant transnational entrepreneurship, including its potential for contributing to the development of the migrants’ home countries – in this case Albania. Since the early 1990s, Albanians have been migrating in large numbers, looking for employment, income-earning and study opportunities outside their country of origin which, at that time, was convulsed by the political and economic uncertainties of the post-communist transition. Many of these migrants have continued to maintain ties with their families and communities in Albania by developing transnational entrepreneurial activities. In order to provide a fuller and empirically grounded account of the causes and consequences of the phenomenon, I draw on face-to-face interviews with 50 Albanian migrant entrepreneurs engaged in cross-border economic activities, supplemented by further interviews with key informants and policy-makers, as well as a critical scrutiny of government policy documents. The migrant interviews were carried out in Italy and Greece –the two main destinations for Albanian emigration – and with returned migrants in Albania.
Existing studies of migrant transnational entrepreneurship tend to examine it from various narrow and single-angle perspectives. My study engages in a wider perspective by setting the phenomenon within multiple theoretical lenses – individual actors’ characteristics, beliefs and motivations; community networks and capital resources; the transnational and spatial contexts; the institutional-regulatory framework; and the wider framework of the migration-development nexus.
The thesis comprises eight chapters. The first set of chapters presents the necessary background context, including Albanian emigration and transnationalism, conceptual frameworks for studying transnational entrepreneurship, and methodology. Subsequent chapters present the empirical results and analysis, followed by a concluding chapter which focuses on policy recommendations. The analysis offers important insights into the ways in which three types of capital acquired during migration – economic, social and cultural – shape and determine productivity in migrants’ transnational enterprises. Although my sample did not exclude female entrepreneurs, the typical Albanian transnational entrepreneur is characterized as a married man, aged in his late 30s and with children. Two main types of entrepreneur are identified, which I call “necessity” and “opportunity” entrepreneurs: the former set up their small business as a way of escaping unemployment, the latter more actively perceive and pursue business opportunities. I also evaluate their contribution in terms of added value at the individual and community level, as well as potentially impacting on the country’s economic and social development.
My most significant findings, and hence the key claims to originality of the thesis, include the following. There is evidence that Albanian migrants are shifting their remittance and savings behavior from survival and consumption towards investing in businesses, both abroad and at home. Although some transnational entrepreneurs set up their concerns out of necessity, as an alternative to unemployment and poverty, the majority are market-driven “opportunists”, who benefit from the experience, training and social capital accumulated whilst working abroad. The character of Albanian transnational entrepreneurship changes over time, including new sectors such as academic and professional activities. The whole field of migrant transnational enterprise holds considerable potential for the long-term economic development of Albania. Nevertheless, there are multiple challenges, especially to businesses located in Albania; these include shortages of loan capital, slow and inefficient bureaucracy, governmental instability, the culture of bribes and corruption, and the limitations of the Albanian market. Several policy recommendations are made to address these problems.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic theory. Demography > HB0522 Income. Factor shares > HB0615 Entrepreneurship. Risk and uncertainty. Property
H Social Sciences > HB Economic theory. Demography > HB0848 Demography. Population. Vital events > HB1951 Population geography. Migration > HB1961-2157 By region or country > HB2086.5 Albania
H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions > HC0240 Europe > HC0401 Balkan States > HC0402 Albania
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 31 May 2019 09:51
Last Modified: 31 May 2019 09:51
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/83907

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