Killing two birds with one stone. Exploring refugee entrepreneurial intent in the Netherlands

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As the number of refugees settling in the Netherlands increases, the anxiety of Dutch citizens increases as well. More than ever before, integration is a public issue. It is proposed in literature that entrepreneurship can be valuable way of enhancing integration into a new society. Furthermore, entrepreneurs have traditionally been the backbone of the Dutch economy and entrepreneurship is fiercely promoted by the government. Refugee entrepreneurship would therefore help the society as a whole as well as stimulating integration of refugees: Killing two birds with one stone. Intention-based models are prevailing in entrepreneurship research and are used to predict behavior and to understand organizational emergence. Therefore, this exploratory study aims to answer the main research questions “To what extent does refugee entrepreneurial intent exist in the Netherlands and which factors influence refugee entrepreneurial intent?”. Refugee entrepreneurial intent refers to the conscious intention of refugees to start and maintain a business, rather than finding employment elsewhere. In order to answer the main research question, a clear definition of refugee entrepreneurial intent is sought, and it is explored which factors either positively or negatively contribute to this intent. Furthermore, an overview of relevant elements of Dutch society is provided. The national context adds meaning to the factors that are identified. A survey was spread amongst refugees in the Netherlands and showed that refugees foster strong entrepreneurial intentions. Multinomial logistic regressions found positive main effects of attitude towards entrepreneurship and the desire to overcome blocked mobility on refugee entrepreneurial intent. Furthermore, the institutional challenges faced by refugees negatively influence refugee entrepreneurial intent. Additionally, time in the Netherlands also has a negative effect: the longer a refugee has lived in the Netherlands, the weaker the entrepreneurial intent. The effect of negative perceptions towards refugees has demonstrated to be an inverted U-shape relationship: the refugees that feel strongly, or not at all, influenced by negative perceptions show the highest entrepreneurial intent. Based on legislation and governmental policy, refugees should encounter no problems when starting a business. The number of refugee entrepreneurs is indeed growing, but is still limited. In practice, entrepreneurship is hardly offered as a viable option for refugees in the Netherlands. The current study has demonstrated that refugee entrepreneurship is, at this point, not successfully stimulated. If policy would change, both the integration of refugees, and entrepreneurship in general would be benefited.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen