Transnationalism, Entrepreneurship, and Development
Sep 13, 2012
Lecture at the GHI | Speaker: Alejandro Portes (Princeton University)
Alejandro Portes' lecture will address the relationship between entrepreneurship and the economic adaptation of immigrants and their descendants, both in the past and present. Using new comparative evidence, he will shed light on the relationship between self-employment and economic well-being across a selected range of immigrant and domestic groups in the United States.
Alejandro Portes is a Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and the author of 30 books and 250 articles on national development, international migration, and economic sociology, among other topics. His current research is on the adaptation process of the immigrant second generation in comparative perspective and immigration and the American health system.
This keynote lecture is part of the conference "Immigration & Entrepreneurship: An Interdisciplinary Conference," taking place at the GHI and the University of Maryland, College Park, on September 13 and 14, 2012. The conference is free and open to the public.
In collaboration with The Center for the History of the New America and The Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute at the University of Maryland, College Park.
In his keynote lecture "Entrepreneurship, Transnationalism, and Development," co-authored by Jessica Yiu, Alejandro Portes provided a comprehensive overview of the current sociological research on immigrant entrepreneurship in the USA and the empirical significance of these groups for the economic performance both in the U.S. and in their countries of origin. Taking self-employment as a proxy for a type of entrepreneurship, Portes presented it as a strategy of social mobility, which must be analyzed in a transnational framework. Immigrant entrepreneurs are the new Argonauts, using family and ethnic networks and their bounded solidarity to build up close ties between the United States and their countries of origin. From this perspective, the often criticized "brain drain" is actually a kind of brain circulation, pushing not only the U.S. economy but benefitting most of the countries of origin as well. Transnational entrepreneurs are helping to integrate their home countries into the global economy and to develop these formerly peripheral nations. Portes recommended encouraging immigrant self-employment. At the same time, however, he made clear that the work of these groups must be embedded in broader political strategies of development: Without at least a minimum level of economic and social development, collective benefits would be accrued only in the more advanced country - and then there is the danger that the poorer nations would subsidize the richer ones.
This keynote lecture was part of the conference "Immigration & Entrepreneurship: An Interdisciplinary Conference," organized in collaboration with the Center for the History of the New America and the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute at the University of Maryland, which took place at the GHI and the University of Maryland, College Park, on September 13 and 14, 2012. For more information and the conference program, please see the conference website.