Why do Asian immigrants become entrepreneurs? The case of Korean self-employed immigrants in New Zealand

Lee, Joo-Seok
Devere, Heather
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Master of Arts
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Auckland University of Technology

With the number of Asian immigrants continually increasing in New Zealand society, Asian immigrant businesses have been appearing more rapidly in New Zealand, particularly in Auckland. The primary purpose of this study is to enquire into why a certain Asian immigrant group become business people after migrating to Auckland, New Zealand. In addition, it investigates the level of their business activity and the level of happiness with their new life in New Zealand. This study examines the growing phenomenon of Asian immigrants, and the entrepreneurship rate of ethnic groups through existing statistics. The study focuses on Korean immigrants. Twenty self-employed Koreans who are running a business in Auckland participated in the study. They were invited to talk about why they became self-employed business people and related matters about their business activity. The study found that Korean immigrants chose self-employment as a means of getting a job. They gave up seeking mainstream employment opportunities due to the language barrier and their inability to cope with a new society and new system. Other fundamental factors in their decision to become entrepreneurs were that firstly, they were willing to invest a considerable amount of their own money and secondly, they preferred to participate in the workforce rather than to depend on the New Zealand welfare system. Based on the information acquired through the research, the study reported that the recently increased numbers of Asian businesses are partly attributable to New Zealand business immigration policy which introduced a new business category – Long Term Business Visa (LTBV). The findings from this research pointed to commitment that immigrant businesses contribute to the New Zealand economy and New Zealand society as taxpayers and potential employers.

Asian immigrants , Qualitative Methodology , Korean self-employed business people , Semi-structured and structured in-depth interviews , Quality of life , English language proficiency
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