University of Limerick
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The role of human, economic and social capital for first-generation Polish entrepreneurs in their pursuit of self-employment in Ireland

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posted on 2022-09-20, 08:18 authored by Jane Hession
Immigrant entrepreneurship studies have frequently overlooked the opportunity to analyse the diverse forms of capital and instead focus on isolated forms of capital, primarily social capital to understand immigrant entrepreneurship. It is within this theoretical field of immigrant entrepreneurship and forms of capital that this research seeks to make its contribution. The concepts of human, economic and social capital are used as the theoretical lens through which to explore the role of capital in the route to self-employment for the Polish entrepreneurial community in Ireland. This research focuses exclusively on the experiences of Polish immigrants in Ireland as this group now comprise the single largest immigrant group in the country. The key research question that guides this study is what is the role of human, economic and social capital for first-generation Polish entrepreneurs in their pursuit of self-employment in Ireland? Methodologically based on a qualitative research approach, twenty five in-depth interviews were conducted with first-generation Polish entrepreneurs. Evidence from the study suggests that immigrant entrepreneurship among the Polish cohort is primarily opportunity driven. One of the notable findings of the research is that Polish businesses are by no means exclusively orientated to co-ethnic customers and that these individuals established their business to serve the mainstream market. Additionally, this research, from a co-ethnic network perspective, has shown that informal networks of advice, information and finance did not play a crucial role in the establishment of enterprises by Polish immigrants in Ireland. Therefore, it appears from the findings that Polish immigrants in Ireland are a diverse group, and that it is not sufficient to focus solely on social capital in order to understand business creation among the Polish community; moreover, it is important to examine the ways in which other forms of capital are combined in this pursuit. This research has contributed to the extant literature both in terms of theory, knowledge and understanding of the forms of capital employed by Polish entrepreneurs within an Irish context. As such this research may provide a useful framework and additional opportunities for further research in this field.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Birdthistle, Naomi

Second supervisor

Cross, Christine





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