The Origin Of Differences In Immigrants’ Strategic Choices: Job Seekers & Entrepreneurial Firms
This dissertation examines the origin of differences in job search strategies among high skilled immigrant workers and business strategies among ethnic entrepreneurial firms. I explore this general question in two separate studies. One focuses on how variation in immigrant scientist and engineering graduates' embeddedness within different academic programs, which differ in terms of demographic composition (e.g., national origin), affect their identification with contemporaries as well as predecessors and therefore, their job search strategies vis-à-vis natives. A second considers how variation in founders' embeddedness in their respective ethnic communities within a national origin group is related to differences in shared notions of resource acquisition, which shape early strategic choices as well as subsequent evolution of professional service ventures. This research aims to contribute to work on organizational theory, economic sociology of job search and ethnic entrepreneurship. First, it serves to add to current understandings of social embeddedness and self-categorization processes within the understudied contexts of higher education organizations and ethnic entrepreneurial firms. It assesses the applicability of prior theories in lesser-known populations and extends current theories by developing a richer understanding of how compositional categories (e.g., national origin, ethnicity) can serve as salient bases of social identification to particular groups within the relevant context. A related contribution is to inform scientific and technical work literature. At a time when the attraction and retention of immigrant scientists and engineers are increasingly seen as an engine of economic growth and a driver of firm competitive advantage, the project may enhance greater understanding of diversity in high-skilled U.S. workers' job strategies and career patterns. Second, this research offers new empirical insights that link individual choices, social relationships and social systems together by studying the labor market entry of new science and technology graduates and early strategic choices of ethnic ventures. Thus it reconnects organizational theory to the study of work, entrepreneurship and individual decision making. Finally, by tracing and analyzing the evolution of ethnic ventures, the study identifies more fully how social ties that are forged, renewed and extended through actors within the ethnic community may affect early strategic choices of new ventures. It also highlights the conditions under which initial strategies of young firms may not impede subsequent diversification initiatives, but rather make it possible to switch to a new regime of practices. Taken as a whole, my research contributes to work on organizational theory, career studies and entrepreneurship.
High-skilled immigrants; social networks; social identities; ethnic ventures
Tolbert, Pamela S; Burton, Mary Diane; Diciccio, Thomas J
Industrial and Labor Relations
Ph. D., Industrial and Labor Relations
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis