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Article

From Center to Periphery and Back Again: A Systematic Literature Review of Refugee Entrepreneurship

1
School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, Emek Hayarden, Zemach M. P. 15132, Israel
2
Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, University of Luxembourg, L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7658; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187658
Received: 11 August 2020 / Revised: 4 September 2020 / Accepted: 8 September 2020 / Published: 16 September 2020

Abstract

:
This paper presents a qualitative, systematic literature review of refugee entrepreneurship research that has been published in academic outlets, up to 2018. We synthesize the contributions to the field, providing a state of the art, so as to elucidate our current understandings of the phenomenon and highlight gaps that will help enhance our future approaches and knowledge. The empirical analysis reveals a fast emerging, eclectic field, with research from a wide range of disciplines, produced by the ‘academic center’, largely in the ‘academic periphery’. Publication numbers have been on the rise, especially in the last ten years, yet, there is very little mutual acknowledgement and discussions arising between researchers, as revealed by a bibliometric analysis. A content analysis shows three main waves of publications based on countries of origin, countries of residence, and migration timeframes. The vast majority of publications take on an exploratory approach to research, with diverse theoretical framings from an array of disciplines, and the thematic clusters reveal how researchers are attempting to tease out the distinctiveness of refugee entrepreneurs from other, closely related entrepreneurship groups.

1. Introduction

“We lost our home, which means the familiarity of daily life. We lost our occupation, which means the confidence that we are of some use in this world. We lost our language, which means the naturalness of reactions, the simplicity of gestures, the unaffected expression of feelings [1] p. 69.
Global migration has been and still is one of the most central factors that shapes contemporary societies, as the integration of migrants and refugees redefines and reshapes the meaning of membership in a society [2,3,4]. Following the latest updates from the United Nations Refugee Agency [5], we are now witnessing the highest levels of displaced people ever, with 70.8 million around the world having been forced to leave their homes. Among them are 29.4 million refugees and asylum seekers, with over half under the age of 18, who have been denied access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment, and freedom of movement [5] (Following Article 1 of the 1951 United Nation’s Convention and the 1967 Protocol that relate to the status of refugees, a refugee is one who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country” [6] (p. 1)). There are just five countries of origin (COOs) that account for two thirds of today’s refugees: Afghanistan, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria [6,7]. Yet, the mass exodus from Syria since early 2011 has sparked exceptional attention to the plight of refugees worldwide, even though parts of Europe and Western nations have seen larger numbers of refugee migrants, as recently as during the Balkan crisis of the early 1990s [8]. The profile of refugees has changed over the years, and as George [9] noted, the wide variety of reasons that force populations to flee a COO significantly impacts their experiences within their new societies. On the recipient side, mass migration has put a lot of stress on host countries; a large range of needs arise with the influx of new arrivals, leading to numerous struggles concerning integration, especially for refugees, who are often among the most marginalized groups of migrants, exposed to injustice, impoverished living conditions, and high rates of unemployment [10,11,12,13]. In this light, host countries’ various policies regarding refugees have become a matter of growing public and academic interest, particularly in regard to employment as a key element to successful inclusion and integration [14,15,16]. Empirical studies show that refugees face many obstacles when trying to enter the labor market, emerging from policy contexts, social and systemic discrimination, employers’ incapacity or reluctance to check documentation, and other challenges related to the acquisition of new knowledge and skills [10,17,18]. Moreover, the very fact of being a refugee often imposes ontologically consequential barriers linked to trauma, stress and health problems resulting from torture, separation from family members, or additional circumstances that emanate from having fled [9], [19]. Adding a further layer of complexity to adequate responses, refugees leave from and arrive at various countries asynchronously, thus, they cannot be understood or appraised as a homogenous group. The concept of super-diversity expounds on this, taking into account the various points of origin, motivations, journeys, and circumstances of new migration and refuge waves [20]. Within this heterogeneity, as Ram, Theodorakopoulos and Jones [21] maintain, small businesses and entrepreneurships become pivotal manifestations of super-diversity, constituting one possible track of labor market integration for new migrant populations in general [22] and refugees and asylum seekers in particular, as we will focus on in this literature review.
Historically, entrepreneurship undertaken by refugees and asylum seekers has remained in the shadows of research. As we will evidence from the literature review and further discuss, refugee entrepreneurship studies have largely been positioned at the margins of entrepreneurship inquiry, up to 2018. This may be related, at least in part, to a perception that the largest refugee pathways of the 20th century occurred beyond the “Global North” [23], as very little attention in entrepreneurship studies have been attributed to refugees in the “Global South”, also characterizing the field of management studies in general [24]. Wauters and Lambrecht [25] have argued that refugees have historically been considered as part of the larger umbrella group of migrant entrepreneurs in research. Their processes towards self-employment have only been addressed marginally, while a distinction between immigrant populations and refugees has almost always been neglected [25,26,27,28]. However, the rather social and political hush that has shrouded several refugee movements has shifted to uproar in the last decade [29,30]. Out of the 68 sources included in this paper’s review, a little more than half have been published from 2010 onwards, casting a new light onto the phenomenon and theoretical interest.
This raises a motivating question for our literature review that asks about the relative obscurity of refugees as an active entrepreneurial business segment. Although studies on ethnic and immigrant entrepreneurship are hugely rich and varied, Hugo [31] p. 2 appeals that, “the economic costs and benefits of refugee settlement are rarely investigated in the way that is commonplace for mainstream migrant settlement”, which has implications for how entrepreneurship can be understood and further theorized. A number of researchers have emphasized the distinctiveness of refugee entrepreneurs versus other migrant groups [25,32,33,34], calling upon greater reflective assessments through, for instance, critical studies. Moreover, contemporary works on the subject note that such a distinction is necessary in order to accurately conceptualize and grasp antecedents, contexts, and consequences to business start-ups. Analyses on these populations increases recognition and knowledge; thus, discarding impressions of ‘exceptionality’ with respect to refugee entrepreneurs, where individuals come to be hailed as archetypical heroes, as often accomplished in entrepreneurship research [35,36]. Furthermore, the research field carries a lot of potential in terms of informing effective policies and practices that can be wielded to stimulate and support new business creation.
In a rare examination of refugees’ propensity for entrepreneurship, Sternberg, von Bloh and Brixy [37] have evidenced that refugees are more likely to start a business than natives, based on GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) data. The New American Economy [38] p. 2 also reported that refugees have an “entrepreneurship rate that outshines even that of other immigrants”, with a comparatively rapid growth in household income to other populations. In 2015, 13.0% of the refugee population in the USA could be counted as entrepreneurs, as compared to 11.5% of the nonrefugee segment of immigrants and 9% of U.S. born [38] (p. 10), while Stevens’ study (1997, cited in [31], p. 5) from Australia found that, “more than a fifth (21 per cent) received their main income from their own business”. Thus, these data highlight the prominence and potential impact of refugee entrepreneurship on a societal, economic, and community level, opening the door for greater inquiries into various national contexts, as well as in relation to the distinctive features of refugee entrepreneurship. A timely contribution to the discourse—lifting refugee entrepreneurs from the shadows—is the recently published book, Refugee entrepreneurship: A case-based topography [39], which presents 16 case studies and an analytical framework for refugee entrepreneurship studies. As noted in the book’s introduction [40], refugee theory can be drawn upon in order to discern meaningful typologies and characterizations of refugee entrepreneurship. Indeed, refugees differ from other migrants due to a variety of factors such as reason to ‘leave’ their countries, preparedness and pre-departure plans, as well as legal status in a new country of residence (COR)—affecting entrepreneurial processes. In light of the growing number of refugees worldwide, their super-diversity, distinct needs, propensity for entrepreneurship, and a shared responsibility to provide viable solutions for all involved, the call for refugee entrepreneurship comes to the forefront, requiring “a greater focus on refugee entrepreneurship as a distinct entity in its own right” [41] (p. 251).
Altogether, this paper aims to make visible what has remained largely on the periphery, contributing to the recent academic momentum concerning our growing knowledge of refugee entrepreneurship. Since refugee entrepreneurship is an emerging field of research, this review is less “hypothesis or research question driven, and more strongly focused on synthesizing the basic foundations of the field [to] provide valuable insights” [42] p. 1038. The remainder of the paper is structured into three subsections. Section 2 details the literature review method and search protocol and lists the selected sources. Section 3 maps the field of refugee entrepreneurship research by analyzing trends, including thematic clusters. Finally, Section 4 presents concluding reflections and directions for future research.

2. Systematic Literature Review Method

2.1. Sampling and Data Collection

The current study has been inspired by previous reviews of literature in the field of entrepreneurship [43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50]. We drew upon a systematic literature review method since it allows for the identification of studies that have been published, and consequently, current perspectives in the field, forgathered along a defined set of criteria, that is replicable [51]. In this review, we applied a ten-step process in the identification of publications, as presented in Figure 1.
At the onset, we established unambiguous search criteria that would at the same time enable a broad view of research, potentially from a variety of disciplines [42].
Our main objective was to include publications that explicitly deal with refugees and/or asylum seekers who undertake entrepreneurship. Following Zapkau, Schwens and Kabst [50], we considered self-employed and/or business owners/managers as entrepreneurs, including those who do not have employees. This choice aligns with the migrant and ethnic entrepreneurship discourse, where the concepts of self-employment and entrepreneurship are used complementarily, i.e., the entrepreneurial self-employment of migrants [52,53]. As a result, our search strings, which slightly differed across database searches due to available search options, delineated the Boolean use of the terms “refugee*” or “asylum seeker*” or “asylum-seeker*” and “entrepreneur*” or “self-employ*” in the title, abstract and/or keywords of sources. We reviewed sources published up to 2018, which yielded results within the timeframe of 1986–2018. We further decided not to limit our selections based on journal rankings or publication house, which was astute, as several sources emanated from journals that do not have an impact ranking. In addition, we chose to limit the search to English texts, so as to capture knowledge that engages with international communities and is accessible to the largest possible academic audiences. In order to foment validation for our search at the onset, we conducted specific searches through relevant refugee and migration and entrepreneurship journals (Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Forced Migration Review, International Migration, Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Journal of Small Business Management, Journal of Refugee Studies, New Issues in Refugee Research, and Refugee Survey Quarterly). We performed the search across three large, scholarly databases [43]: EBSCOhost (yielding 74 document results), Google Scholar (yielding 78 document results), and Scopus (yielding 125 document results), which generated a total of 277 sources. After omitting duplicate hits, we equally divided the reading of 240 abstracts, noting specific reasons as to include or exclude each source, which we recorded in a collaborative table. We then mutually reassessed the list, and developed further exclusion criteria alike. For instance, we proceeded to further omit texts that did not meet the keyword criteria, despite having been listed in search results, and omitted reports, conference proceedings, and reviews (e.g., book reviews). At this stage, we could also omit publications that dealt with the so-called “refugee effect” (high unemployment leading to the start-up activity of self-employed individuals, the “refugee effect” or “refugee/Schumpeter effect” addresses the interplay between unemployment and self-employment and is widely discussed in entrepreneurship literature dealing with labor market trends [54,55]—it does not address refugees as a population group, thus using it as a search concept in the framework of this study would be misleading).
We then proceeded to read 120 full texts, which also led to additional exclusion criteria. In keeping with our thematic focus, it was necessary to further omit: publications on policy entrepreneurship in the context of refugee and asylum seekers (e.g., [56,57]); publications examining migrant entrepreneurship where it is mentioned that part of the results might also be applicable for refugee entrepreneurship (e.g., [28], [57,58,59]); sources on social entrepreneurship for refugees (e.g., [60,61]); and texts on educational programs for entrepreneurship aimed at refugees and asylum seekers, as well as support programs that include courses on entrepreneurship (e.g., [62]). We included studies that considered entrepreneurship, also in and around refugee camps, while excluding articles that merely addressed this indirectly. The exclusion of book sources and book chapters that did not make use of the literature review’s original search terms within the introduction also applied. Finally, all possible efforts were undertaken to access full texts, including personal requests to authors. At this stage, the count of included texts was at 67: 54 journal articles, 9 book chapters, and 4 books. Then, by drawing upon snowball sampling, we explored sources cited in reference lists and bibliographies, which in turn generated the identification of one additional source—Sandberg, Immonen and Kok [63], cited in Bizri [26]—bringing the total count to 68 texts for our review.

2.2. Data Analysis Method

In order to understand the emerging patterns from the field of refugee entrepreneurship, we applied a bibliometrics analysis, defined by Hawkins [64] (p. 13) as “the quantitative analysis of the bibliographic features of a body of literature” aimed at mapping the outcomes of a field of study (quoted in [65]). Drawing from Schmitz et al. [49], our bibliometric analysis begins with a list of authors, publication types, and year of publication, as depicted in Table A1 (see Appendix A), summarizing the 68 sources included in our analysis.
In addition, we undertook a qualitative analysis of the selected works, including theoretical and methodological approaches employed in the studies, population characteristics, thematic insights, and contributions to the field [46]. These are elaborated on in the next section.

3. Outcomes and Analysis

In the following subsections, we examine the research patterns that have emerged from our selected pool of publications, in consonance with previous systematic literature reviews from related fields of research [43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50]. We first consider the historical development of refugee entrepreneurship research, publication arenas, research objectives and scope of analysis, applied methodologies, citation and cross-citation trends, followed by a content analysis. The content analysis was performed by both authors, independently, by analyzing each of the selected sources, and applying thematic coding. We first highlighted text directly within each source, lifting out and delineating themes. We then listed our themes within a collaborative spreadsheet, subsequently synthesizing these into dominant, composite clusters, jointly. The results of our content analysis are presented in Section 3.2, revealing three main waves of studies, along with three main thematic clusters.

3.1. Development of the Field of Refugee Entrepreneurship Research

As Figure 2 illustrates, the field has more rapidly developed in recent years with an impressive increase of contributions dealing with refugee entrepreneurship since 2014. Roughly half of the publications appeared after 2010, which also coincides with a strengthened visibility of refugee movements that especially ensued at the onset of the Syrian exodus [23].
The upshot in academic studies on entrepreneurial endeavors by refugees can partially be explained by Lucassen [29], who contends there are five major factors that moot, and, thus, cast concerns on the impact of the 2014/2015 “refugee crisis” [29,30]: increased discomfort with immigration and integration, mounting inequality, populism, Islamist terrorism, and a problematization of Islam [29]. The West took on an alarmist approach in the face of large and contradistinctive entries. Three quarters of their asylum-seeking population were nationals from Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, and Syria [29] (p. 385). Thus, it follows that research interest mounted, parallel to socio-economic concerns.
Focusing on the academic article publications (55), our bibliographic analysis presented in Table A2 (see Appendix A) shows that they have been published across a total of 48 international journals. With some cross-disciplinarity, 17 have appeared in economics, finance, business, and management sciences journals, with nine articles published in the field of entrepreneurship and small business; 17 have been issued in migration, diaspora, ethnic, and refugee studies journals; eight were published in the field of Asian or African studies; and 18 were published in a variety of arts and humanities as well as social science fields, including anthropology, community practices, culture, ethnography, geography and demographics, history, international affairs, labor relations, policy, sociology, and urban studies. A total of 37 articles (67%) have been published in journals that are SJR-ranked (Scientific Journal Rankings), with recorded impact factors (to note, the ISRA International Journal of Islamic Finance only records data from 2017, onward). Articles appearing in ranked journals have been published in journals with a wide impact factor range of 0.000–5.091, having an H Index range of 2–94, an SJR score range of 0.104–2.501, a CiteScore range of 0.27–5.29, and a SNIP range of 0.000–2.366, with the majority appearing in lower-impact factor journals overall. From our total pool of articles, 18 (33%) were issued by 15 journals that are not indexed (neither in SJR or Scopus).
Together, Table A2 and Figure 2 reveal that academic work is self-orientating in an emerging refugee entrepreneurship research field. Table A2 also highlights a fragmentation in academic outlets; a mere seven pairs of articles (14 total) share journal outlets. Along with an equally apparent lack of dialogue between authors, as underscored in Table 1, this compounds hardships associated with the invisibility of refugees in entrepreneurial work and convolutes potential connections between the narratives that deal with the phenomenon.
We adopted Sassmannshausen and Volkmann’s [48] technique for our cross-citation analysis, deriving the number of citations for each publication from Google Scholar and from Scopus. While Google Scholar refers to references in refereed as well as non-refereed publications, Scopus refers only to academic peer-refereed citations. Combining results from the two databases thus established the reliability of our data [48] (p. 3).
The cross-citation analysis highlights a limited mutual acknowledgement of and engagement between authors publishing on refugee entrepreneurship, even from within the same outlets (i.e., similar journal). Despite a number of sources that remain uncited due to their recent print date, Gold’s [32,66,67,68,69,70] as well as Wauters’ and Lambrecht’s [25,71,72] voices have been endorsed as foundational, altogether presenting studies of refugees in developed CORs.

3.1.1. Centrality Versus Peripherality of Publications

In examining refugee entrepreneurship studies, one cannot fully weigh in on the state of the field without considering the tides of power that shepherd its development. Murphy and Zhu [24] have provided us with a singular analysis upon management studies that geographically establishes the major orbits of intellectual production, placing the center in the Anglo-American globule, which also describes the patterns that mark refugee entrepreneurship publications up to 2018.
To begin, we find that a great majority of authors are affiliated with what can be considered strategic centers of the academic community, located mainly in Western and Central Europe, Canada, and the USA. These are also the figures who have claimed the field of refugee entrepreneurship from its origins, especially examining political refugees who have fled in the light of WWI, WWII, and the collapse of the Soviet Union towards developed countries (using the United Nation’s [73] classification for stage of development; these also account for around half the studies on populations from developing COOs, entrepreneuring in Western CORs). Such studies dominated up to 2011. From then on, authorship from peripheral universities or institutions broadened our knowledge on refugee entrepreneurs who migrated from developing countries to a variety of “Global South” as well as developed countries, most especially within the last decade. These include contributions from, chronologically listed: Ayadurai [74]; Sabar and Posner [75]; Călin-Ştefan [76]; Morais [77]; Omeje and Mwangi [78]; Pulla and Kharel [79]; De Jager [80]; Raijman and Barak-Bianco [81]; Abdel Jabbar and Ibrahim Zana [82]; Kachkar, Mohammed, Saad and Kayadibi [83]; Bizri [26]; Kachkar [84]; as well as Lankov, Ward, Yoo and Kim [85]—Singh’s [86] contribution is the exception to this grouping, as it emanated from the periphery prior to 2011. Despite some salient commonalities marking the contexts and some populations under studies, e.g., on a macro-level, there nevertheless exists a traceable paucity in contact and discussions between the periphery and the center, emphasized through poor cross-citation. Most (65%) of our sources have been published in peripheral academic outlets, and have been authored by centrally affiliated authors (81%).
As refugee movements towards Western nations across the globe ignited strong social and political reactions [23,29,30], the majority of publications on refugee entrepreneurship—almost half—took up momentum. The shift of migration flows to the “Global North” and consequent visibility of the plight of refugees reflected onto the academic scene. Thus, we have considered the centrality and peripherality of author affiliation and publication outlet, including publication rankings for each of our sources, highlighting a crucial theme that cannot be overlooked in a comprehensive and systematic literature review on refugee entrepreneurship. This undertaking also reflects the fact that the peripheral voices have historically been overpowered by central voices, which enjoy the privilege of narratives in this field of study.
Generally, indexing denotes a journal’s reputation, scope of readership, and review rigor, though non-indexed niche journals and lower-ranked journals may sometimes be respected in related academic communities and by members of a particular discipline. For the purposes of our analysis we endeavored to designate publication outlets as ‘central’ if they ranked above a 1.00 Thompson Reuters score and had an H-index >40, or if they were listed as A or B-ranked publishing houses [87,88]. Then, following Murphy and Zhu’s [24] classification, we considered professional affiliations located in Western and Central Europe, Canada, and the USA as well as Australia and New Zealand, as ‘central’.
Taking this into account, four observable patterns emerged: the largest grouping being ‘central-peripheral’. This pattern concerns publications by authors who enjoy at least one professional affiliation with a central academic institution, who nevertheless chose to publish in peripheral outlets, including unranked journals, unranked publishing houses, and C-publishers. These ‘central-peripheral’ sources account for 30 of our total pool (44%) and encompass works by, chronologically listed: Basok [89]; Moore [90]; Gold [66,69]; LaTowsky and Grierson [91]; Halter [92]; Smith-Hefner [93]; Serdedakis, Tsiolis, Tzanakis and Papaioannou [94]; Garnham [34]; Fong et al. [95]; Lyon, Sepulveda and Syrett [12]; Sheridan [96]; Tömöry [97]; Halkias et al. [98] (five of the six authors with central affiliations); Dana [99]; Gonzales, Forrest and Balos [100]; Pulla and Kharel [79] (one of the two authors with a central affiliation); Şaul [101]; Beehner [102]; Northcote and Dodson [103]; Elo and Vemuri [104]; Sánchez Piñeiro and Saavedra [105]; van Kooy [106]; Betts, Omata and Bloom [107]; Crush, Tawodzera, McCordic and Ramachandran [108] (three of the five authors with central affiliations); Crush and McCordic [109]; Gürsel [110]; Omata [111]; Suter [112]; as well as Sandberg, Immonen and Kok [63]. Three of these can also be counted in the third pattern—peripheral affiliation, peripheral outlet ([79,98,108]). Central affiliations span Australia, Canada, Greece, Finland, France, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, the UK, and the USA and include top-tiered institutions such as Columbia University, the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Oxford, and Yale University. It is here that we find early research into refugee entrepreneurship (e.g., [89]) with a notable momentum in publications within the last decade. Cross-citation remains poor, some of it due to recent publication timeframes, while studies predominantly appear within the social sciences fields (e.g., migration studies), with very few emanating from business and entrepreneurship outlets (e.g., [63,91,98,99]). Such studies develop themes nearly equally across the three waves of studies on refugee entrepreneurship identified in the next section (see Table 2, Table 3 and Table 4), yet it remains unclear as to why they do not appear in greater number in high-ranked publication outlets.
The second pattern—‘central-central’—concerns publications from authors whose professional affiliations are centrally positioned within the global academic sphere, as are their publication outlets. Affiliations span Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the UK, and the USA and include top-ranked institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley. From our total sources, 25 publications (37%) encompass this grouping, including those by (chronologically listed): Fass [113]; Gold [32,67,68]; Basok [89]; Kaplan [33]; Miyares [114]; Johnson [115]; Hiebert [116]; Ong [117]; Kibreab [118]; Mamgain and Collins [119]; Fuller-Love, Lim and Akehurst [120]; Wauters and Lambrecht [25,71,72]; Campbell [121]; Abt [122]; Hugo [31]; Gold [70]; Ranalli [123]; Ilcan and Rygiel [124]; Bujaki, Gaudet and Iuliano [125]; David and Coenen [126]; and Scott and Getahun [127], wherein the earliest contribution to refugee entrepreneurship [113] can also be found. Moreover, though a total of 55 of our sources (81%) are authored by central voices (the first two patterns in our analysis), those who have published in central outlets have particularly benefited from the largest number of cross-citations (e.g., Gold [32,67,68] as well as Wauters and Lambrecht [25,71,72]). This pool of studies accounts for around half the publications that examine post-WWI, post-WWII, and Former Soviet refugees, as well as refugees from developing COOs to developed CORs, with only three sources whose studies focus on migrations within the “Global South”. Thus, it can be gathered that the particularities of contexts are important for the centrality or peripherality of academic interest on refugee entrepreneurship.
‘Peripheral-peripheral’ characterizes our third group, denoting publications by authors who have peripheral affiliations and have used peripheral publication outlets. These account for 15 of our sources (22%), and encompass works by (chronologically listed): Singh [86]; Halkias et al. ([98], one of the six authors holds peripheral affiliation); Ayadurai [74]; Sabar and Posner [75]; Călin-Ştefan [76]; Morais [77]; Omeje and Mwangi [78]; Pulla and Kharel ([79], one of the two authors holds peripheral affiliation); De Jager [80]; Raijman and Barak-Bianco [81]; Abdel Jabbar and Ibrahim Zaza [82]; Kachkar, Mohammed, Saad and Kayadibi [83]; Crush, Tawodzera, McCordic and Ramachandran ([108], two of the five authors hold peripheral affiliations); Kachkar [84]; as well as Lankov, Ward, Yoo and Kim [85]. Three of these can also be counted in the first pattern – central affiliation, peripheral outlet ([79,98,108]) with professional associations in India, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, Malaysia, Romania, and South Africa. The vast majority have been published within the last decade, targeting audiences in business-related fields as well sociology and the social sciences, rather evenly. Despite their rich contributions as to the entrepreneurial processes of refugees who have migrated, especially across developing COOs and CORs (e.g., Africans across Africa, Syrians across the Middle-East, and South-East Asians to other parts of South-East Asia), worldwide citations are very poor as are cross-citations (though Sabar and Posner’s [75] work is cited by Raijman and Barak-Bianco [81]), in part due to their recent publication emergence. This particular body of studies, along with the next grouping, demonstrates an important breadth of production from the periphery that examines significant, and the largest, factions of refugee populations.
The final pattern—‘peripheral-central’—suggests the least likely path to publication up to 2018. From our total sources, only Rima M. Bizri [26] from Rafik Hariri University in Meshref, Lebanon (peripheral affiliation) published her article in the central journal outlet of Entrepreneurship and Regional Development. Her study examines the role of social capital in refugee entrepreneurship startup and survival, and draws upon a unique case study in Lebanon. Although this publication has yet to reach global citations (too recently published), she references two works published by centrally affiliated authors ([25,63]), which emphasizes a motivation to engage between central and peripheral narratives in refugee entrepreneurship studies.
Tending to the book and book chapter sources in our pool, we find that all author affiliations are concentrated in the Anglo-American and European orbits (Canada, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, and the USA). Publications directed to international audiences are produced either through A-publishers (refereed and excellent international outlet) or B-publishers (refereed and semi-top international outlet). C-publishers (refereed, good international outlet, excellent national outlet) have put out sources that are especially directed to national and regional audiences. Markedly, three of the chapter and book sources from our review were published through unranked publishers—denoted ‘central-peripheral’. Gold’s [69] publication in The American Jewish Committee can potentially be explained by a desire to deepen reflective dialogue specifically with Jewish community readers. Northcote and Dodson [103] equally chose to publish through an unranked publishing house in South Africa, which is nevertheless a trusted distribution channel within that region. David and Coenen’s [126] chapter was published in a book that addresses European issues in entrepreneurship, and thus, the unrated Barbara Budrich Publishers of Berlin seems to be an apt choice for that purpose.
Overall, we can identify that refugee entrepreneurship narratives have originated from the center of academia, but that publications have targeted a wide variety of peripheral audiences. The publishing patterns illustrate multidisciplinarity, with about an equal distribution of journal articles appearing in business and entrepreneurship outlets, then migration and ethnic studies journals, and arts and humanities journals. Voices from the periphery enter into the forum later, from 2011 on (except for Singh’s contribution [86]), and as we have noted, they mainly report on the dominant migration flows located in the “Global South”. Notably, peripheral publication outlets have been the overall channels of communication (66% of our total sources). This leads us to infer that refugee entrepreneurship has been stifled as a potential consequence of its peripherality, what Baker, Aldrich and Liou [128] have identified as a “thwarting of assumptions”. Continuity in empirical work is low, as only a few authors have produced more than one contribution in relation to their examined populations (i.e., Gold [32,66,67,68,69,70], Crush and colleagues [108,109], Kachkar and colleagues [83,84], as well as Wauters and Lambrecht [25,71,72]). Moreover, since central-peripheral publications recognizably encompass an important body in the field of migration studies, they contribute to maintaining refugee entrepreneurs as subjects of social studies rather than as agents of change in economies and entrepreneurship. Finally, as will be elaborated on in the next subsection, the apparent deficit in coordination and mutual acknowledgement between authors further contributes to difficulties in conceptualizing refugee entrepreneurship in terms of distinctiveness.

3.2. Content Analysis

A content analysis of the selection of publications was conducted in two stages. Similar to Dheer [46], in the first stage, we focused on the most predominant literature review aspects, such as research questions and objectives, theoretical frameworks employed, data gathering methods, and applied analyses. In the second stage, we identified major themes and issues addressed by the authors, highlighting a more exploratory approach to the systematic literature review. Therefore, rather than capturing themes based on known assumptions or based on a specific theoretical approach, as may be appropriate for literature reviews in developed research fields [48,49], we allowed for each theme to emerge from within the selected works, “synthesizing the basic foundations of the field [to] provide valuable insights” [42] (p. 16). This resulted in an examination of the refugee migration patterns from our sources, revealing three main waves of studies.

3.2.1. Geographies and Timeframes

Table 2 is a first grouping of literature that examines refugee entrepreneurs who entered their host countries, mainly up to the mid-1990s: studies notably focused on Jews who fled persecution as well as populations from the former Soviet Union, who then took up entrepreneurship especially across North America. Collectively, these studies echo the political shifts that occurred in the light of WWI and WWII and overall, this group of studies establishes the very origins of refugee entrepreneurship research, prevailed by the work of Gold [32,66,67,68,69,70].
Table 3 details studies undertaken from the late-1990s, which concern refugee entrepreneurs who set up businesses in developed countries. Unfortunately, there are a number of sources that did not specify the time period of data collection (noted in the table as “>YEAR”, however, the predominant COOs of the examined refugee populations reflect African and Middle Eastern countries, with migration towards CORs in the Commonwealth. In this wave of studies, new European examinations of refugee entrepreneurship emerged from Belgium, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Sweden, and the UK, with an important focus on the characteristics of refugee entrepreneurship, the challenges faced and overall impact, including on the host society.
Table 4 categorizes academic contributions that examine refugee activities across developing countries, many of which deal with entrepreneurship in refugee camps across Africa and Asia. Data is more recent, though many studies do not specify exact timeframes once again. This bulk of contemporary literature highlights new narratives from the “Global South” that is also taken up by central voices.
Finally, four articles should be mentioned separately, as they examine activities in more than one COR. Three articles present comparative examinations of refugee entrepreneurship: Ranalli [123] compared the impact that local currencies can have in camps, taking inspiration from a case in the Netherlands and its applicability in Kenya; Elo and Vemuri [104] examined the contextual elements of self-organization, following experiences of migration in Israel, Germany, and the United States; while David and Coenen [126] explored country-specific encounters in the Netherlands and Germany. Each of these emphasizes the dearth of knowledge on comparative studies, as do authors who provide comparative insights on entrepreneurial refugee populations versus immigrant or native populations (e.g., [108,109]).

3.2.2. Objectives and Scopes of the Analyzed Studies

For this part of the analysis, we synthesized contributions based on research objectives and took into consideration the patterns uncovered in the previous section; namely, the various waves of publications. Table 5 depicts the classifications.
The publications’ major research objectives and questions reflect the fact that as a whole, the body of literature is teasing out the peculiarities of refugee entrepreneurship, as a phenomenon. Research is considerably exploratory, descriptive and qualitative in approach (see Section 3.2.4 for more details on applied methodologies). The vast majority focuses on the characteristics of refugee entrepreneurs and their businesses, especially from waves 1 and 2—refugees who settle in developed CORs, such as in Europe and the Commonwealth. Comparative research between refugee entrepreneurship and immigrant, ethnic, or other entrepreneurship groups, especially in developing countries, is not so much undertaken, despite a resounding call to do so. There may be several reasons for this, including the fact that voluntary migration levels into developing countries are low. We also perceive that studies in developed CORs primarily deal with micro-level analyses, whereas examinations of refugee entrepreneurs in developing CORs tend to equally consider the meso- and macro-levels. Overall, the challenges faced by refugee entrepreneurs, policy issues and impact on integration, inclusion, and livelihoods dominate the narratives.

3.2.3. Theoretical Framing

Revealing the prolegomenous stage of the research field, a proportionally high number of studies (20/68) does not make use of specific theoretical approaches, despite richly descriptive analyses and meaningful insights. For those that do, three major groupings have emerged.
The majority that deal with refugee entrepreneurship in developed CORs (see Table 2 and Table 3 for waves 1 and 2) lean upon theories from the field of migrant/immigration studies such as ethnic entrepreneurship and social networks, ethnic enclaves, diaspora theories, mixed embeddedness, and disadvantage theory (e.g., [25,32,33,34,66,67,68,69,70,92,93,97,98,104,114,115,119,126]. Only three—and recent—contributions consider such theories in developing COR contexts: Raijman and Barak-Bianco [81], in their study of refugees from Africa to Israel, using a mixed embeddedness approach; Suter [112] who draws upon transnationalism and social networks to analyze refugee entrepreneurship in Turkey; and, Bizri [26] who draws upon social capital theory, in her case study examination from Lebanon.
Meanwhile, the majority of studies investigating refugee entrepreneurships in developing CORs (see Table 4 for wave 3) have made use of theories that center upon economic development, institutional theories, camp economies, and livelihood approaches (e.g., [83,101,103,107,108,110,111,121]). There have also been a number of studies that have applied micro-level theories, such as those dealing with personal traits, motivation theories, and identity theories (e.g., [72,75,77,94,96,113,125]), while some have presented a more philosophic and theoretical consideration dealing with the phenomenon of “being”, perceiving it through, for example, the ontology of belonging (e.g., [118]), the meaning of citizenship (e.g., [117]), resilience humanitarianism (e.g., [124]), and neoliberal theory [110].
Overall, theoretical approaches applied in studies up to 2018 reflect the center–periphery divide as well as the contextual realities that refugees face in their CORs. Refugee entrepreneurs are predominantly theorized as agents of economic action throughout the “Global North”, whereas in the “Global South” they are mainly theorized as subjects of development processes, finding reactive ways to cope with often critically impoverished conditions and long-term (or life-long) illegality.

3.2.4. Applied Methodology

Altogether, the set of publications considered in this review generally make use of qualitative, exploratory, inductive methodologies that yield descriptive evaluations and findings, as depicted in Table 6. This is quite indicative of a field of research that is emergent and in need of a more extensive empirical body of knowledge for future theory development.

3.3. Thematic Clusters in Refugee Entrepreneurship

In the following subsections, we expand on the main thematic clusters that have emerged from the literature. These address the distinction between migrant and refugee entrepreneurship, the impact of refugee entrepreneurship, and factors influencing refugee entrepreneurship on the micro-, meso-, and macro-levels. Such themes highlight the most substantive insights derived from the research undertaken, as well as the pressing knowledge gaps.

3.3.1. Difference between Migrant and Refugee Entrepreneurship

At the core of the thematic clusters, we find foundational work that considers the distinctiveness of refugee entrepreneurs in relation to other migrant entrepreneurs. Attempts to conceptualize the phenomenon foretell future developments in theorizing. Table 5 lists the sources from our review that expound on this particular theme. As Hugo [31] asserted, at the root, is a choice–compulsion-spectrum for the migratory process. This then impacts entrepreneurial activity ontologically: refugees flee their COOs and migrate out of necessity, with often little choice as to their new COR, while other migrants choose to leave their COOs primarily to improve their quality of life (e.g., educational pursuits, work, family reunification, etc.), first preparing, then heading towards a preferred COR. The ripple effects impact the degree to which a new COR is selected or appointed, material resources (secured from a COO as well as acquired in a new COR), social capital, human capital, and experiences with trauma, for instance. Consequently, as Edwards (2015) underscored, various inequalities emerge, associated with legal distinctions: countries can define selection criteria for those seeking to immigrate for reasons other than refuge, granting them rights and privileges upon entry; yet, countries do not equally abide by international laws that govern refugees’ humanitarian needs and rights. Thus, refugees are always considered as a categorically distinct migration group, worldwide, potentially also facing circumstances where they may never attain legal rights in their new CORs. The result is a tiered system in CORs that can intensify disparities; especially since immigration processes for asylum seekers are lengthy, taking months, years, or even generations.
From the more social and economic aspects, refugees attempt to rebuild what they have lost from their COOs while nonrefugee immigrants aspire to economic and social advancement, and a better quality of life [34,86,109,117,129]. In these respects, among many more, refugees are subject to divergent forms of self-selection than other migrants and in turn, the underlying motivations influence other essential entrepreneurship aspects, including anticipation and preparation for migration, investment readiness, and a capacity to ferry both tangible and intangible assets to new CORs.
In one of the most cited contributions to academic discourses on refugee entrepreneurship, Wauters and Lambrecht [25] list six aspects that differentiate (to a disadvantage) refugee entrepreneurs from other migrant entrepreneurs, including:
  • Less extensive social networks;
  • Limited access to COO resources, if any at all;
  • Psychological instability due to flight and trauma;
  • Little or no preparation in migration processes;
  • Needing to leave valuable assets and resources in their COO;
  • Many remain unsuited for paid labor in the COR (would not have left).
Inspiring others, Wauters and Lambrecht’s [25,71,72] work has provided some tangible foundation to the debate, in support of independent refugee entrepreneurship research, along with Garnham [34] who problematizes the groupings, and Sandberg, Immonen and Kok [63], who position the research within the larger research arenas of transnational, diaspora, and immigrant entrepreneurship studies.
Critically, however, we have found that within our current body of knowledge, some of the aspects used to distinguish between the two groups (forced and unforced migrants) overlap and that generalizations regarding refugees—often referred to as a singular group—have been made, despite their marked heterogeneity [20,130]. There is also a growing focus on social capital with respect to refugee entrepreneurs, and a lack of consideration of institutional constraints and voids [19,131]. Moreover, refugee theories (e.g., [9,129,132]) do not currently figure in discussions about distinctiveness, leading to a neglected acknowledgement of the ontological differences between the groups.
Noted are the differences in macro-environmental circumstances (e.g., legal frameworks), including country-specific institutional arrangements as well as socio-political contexts and perceptions within CORs. For instance, Abdel Jabbar and Ibrahim Zaza [82], Gold [32,67,68,69,70], LaTowsky and Grierson [91], Miyares [114], Sheridan [96], Singh [86], Tömöry [97] and van Kooy [106] have demonstrated the positive function of approaching refugees as beneficiaries of, e.g., specialized social and governmental programs, including the right to self-employment opportunities and microfinance [83,84,123].
Adding to this, Volery [133], has contended that ethnic enclave entrepreneurs draw upon co-ethnic resources that are oriented to COR markets, and that at the same time, they have access to and capitalize on COO resources, which is not the typical experience for refugees. Migrant entrepreneurs who share migration backgrounds and experiences are often more able to draw upon COO resources [70]. Diaspora entrepreneurs have particular knowledge of international markets, possess transnational social ties, and often identify with homelands [134,135], while returnee entrepreneurs have been seen as capable of securing COO as well as COR resources. Furthermore, transnational entrepreneurs hold a double cultural and experiential habitus, which they can access through home and host country networks [136]. As Sandberg, Immonen and Kok [63] have demonstrated, transnational entrepreneurship by refugees is a lengthy process that requires weak ties—seen to be more important than theory tells—especially in CORs, which may develop through employment experiences in CORs, prior to entrepreneurship.
The literature in this review highlights that beyond the neoliberal framework that enables the integration of refugees with high human capital [110] and their business startups, embeddedness, social capital, and access to resources within new CORs do not reflect the ordinary realities of refugees. As a whole, the research presents strong arguments that legitimize a distinct consideration for refugee entrepreneurs in research. Yet, we find that taken-for-granted assumptions regarding the sameness between refugee and nonrefugee immigrant entrepreneurs has hampered conceptual work in this regard, and has contributed to the relative invisibility of the population overall. Publications that specifically deal with distinctiveness issues are still few in numbers and are yet to emanate from ‘central-central’ (see Section 3.1.1) narratives. We also find strong argumentation to reconsider the mixed embeddedness perspective [21,22] so predominantly used to explain migrant entrepreneurship of various types, in its application to refugee entrepreneurship, since refugees simply cannot be readily considered as embedded in either their COOs, nor in their CORs. Thus, the literature informs us that refugee entrepreneurs face very distinct and often acute challenges and disadvantages, not least in terms of access to valuable tangible and intangible resources, laying the foundation for theoretical work on the distinctiveness of this group.

3.3.2. Factors Influencing Refugee Entrepreneurship

In a second prevailing thematic cluster emerging from the literature, factors influencing refugee entrepreneurship highlight the interplay of institutional factors and human, cultural, and social capital factors (e.g., [25,31,32,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,77,108,112,126]). Such challenges are country-specific and very much depend on the particular status (e.g., legal) of refugees [118]. The greatest challenge faced by refugees resides in their being illegal and uncertain about the future of their legal status [12,74,80]. This results in almost utter instability associated to discrimination, police harassment, lack of access to housing, work permits, language and integration courses, and an acutely high degree of uncertainty concerning family issues. Individually, and in concert, these all influence refugees’ state of mind [12,82,95], often leading to a lack of confidence experienced by refugees. In addition, refugee entrepreneurs continue to report on the pivotal impact of language and communication barriers in CORs [12,78,96,104,107,114,116], a lack of business knowledge and access to capital [12,25,74,78,86,111,114,126], including finance [12,25,63,84,92,114], a lack of support resources, information and advice [12,104], a lack of formal education credential recognition in CORs [25], and a lack of understanding of the competition [81], as well as socio-political environments and contexts in which they find themselves [25,74,78,83,126,130]. Moreover, the cross-cultural challenges refugees face [74], including inequity [77,95,108,109,126], compounds the adversities they face with entrepreneurship.
In terms of personal factors, Smith-Hefner [93] and Halter [92] have discussed how refugees’ histories of being part of a minority population (or “twice” minority [92]) influence—sometimes positively—their propensity to self-employ. The main personal motivations for entrepreneurship highlighted in the literature center around the desire to lead a better life and integrate in CORs [63,71,95,96,97,104,107,108,112,119,121], and the desire to be independent [63,95], or, in Wauters and Lambrecht’s [71] words, having an “appetite for entrepreneurship”, denoted by Tömöry [97] as a “strong entrepreneurial spirit”, and “risk-taking” by Hugo [31]. Mamgain and Collins’ [119] study on women refugee entrepreneurs reveals a desire to forge relationships with hosting CORs (American in their study), stressing the importance of strengthening the refugee community via entrepreneurship. “Blocked mobility” in a CORs’ labor market has also been noted as a motivator for refugee entrepreneurship [97]. Moreover, not surprisingly, facilitating refugee entrepreneurship are access to capital, especially social capital [26,63,78,107,108,109,112,114,119,121], and a COR’s social acceptance of refugees [97,109,114].
Overall, there are a number of challenges, including institutional voids and uncertainty, which influence an entrepreneurial undertaking. Micro-level barriers, however, can be visibly overpowered with interventions. This has been demonstrated within camp settings, as well as in mainstream societies [32,67,68,69,70,82,83,84,86,91,96,97,106,114,123].

3.3.3. Impact of Refugee Entrepreneurship

The third thematic cluster emerging from the literature reviewed concerns the impact of refugee entrepreneurship, addressed at various levels of analysis. Waves 1 and 2 of the studies in this review (Table 2 and Table 3) have largely concentrated their examinations on a micro-level of analysis, often concerning rather high-skilled refugees in developed CORs, whereas studies from wave 3 (Table 4), across developing CORs, have predominantly drawn upon broader analytical lenses, concerning economic development and camp economies for example, on the meso- and macro-levels.
For the individual, refugee entrepreneurship is seen as a self-organizing form of generating income and as an effective livelihood strategy [12,33,71,74,100,103,104,105,107,111,112,115,119], also providing meaning and sense-making [75,106,117,122], and patterns through which to cope with and reconcile life journeys [79]. In addition, a number of studies highlight entrepreneurship as instrumental towards the integration processes of refugees [25,67,68,76,89,94,96,126,137].
At the meso- or community-level, refugee entrepreneurship is viewed as enhancing local services and developing local refugee communities [12,26,63,70,78,79,100,127]. Since refugee businesses serve as community centers and information points, they can contribute to the formation and strengthening of social capital which then leads to the construction and reconstruction of community identity [26,33,71,75,93,104,108,109,113,119].
Studies that highlight macro-implications, including refugee entrepreneurship in camps, denote impact in terms of entrepreneurial ambition [82,101], impact on transnationalism as well as beneficial inputs to formal and informal markets and economies [31,34,63,90,108,109,121,123]. For instance, Beehner [102] maintains that bottom-up “new urbanism” contributes to economic growth. Lyon, Sepulveda and Syrett [12] (p. 368) have evidenced the “presence of a positive multiplier effect from refugee businesses within the deprived areas in which they were located”, while Gürsel [110] (p. 134) has shown an important impact on the national economic level, as “one in every 40 enterprises established in Turkey is now Syrian”. He offers a neoliberal analysis of Syrian refugees in Turkey as “enterprising subjectivities” (ibid.)—a perspective complemented by Ilcan and Rygiel [124] (p. 338), who have argued that a critical approach to neoliberalism shifts our consideration of refugees from passive recipients of humanitarian aid, reconstituting them as neoliberal, “…resilient subjects who are capable of self-transformation, becoming empowered and responsible for their own self-government and forming themselves into entrepreneurial communities”, which in some areas, develop over large geographies, inter-generationally, yet still in abject living conditions (e.g., longstanding camp life adaptation). This propensity is also highlighted by Campbell [121] (p. 141), who informs on the success of refugee entrepreneurs (particularly African) in Kenya, having to overcome persistent, high levels of xenophobia and discrimination—they “have turned to the informal economy for economic survival [and are…] fully integrated into the fabric of the city”, tapping into and expanding new trade networks.
Overall, studies echo what Hugo [31] stresses: that the problems associated with a COR’s devaluation and neglect of refugees’ human capital and potential often leads them to “secondary labor-market niches” [31] (p. 13), in jobs that are considered undesirable (e.g., characterized by low job security, long hours, high health and safety risks, among other disadvantageous conditions), or to unemployment. Thus, studies collectively evidence refugees’ productive resilience in the face of adversity, with positive impacts that broaden to a macro-level: there is a “strong case to be made that humanitarian settlers have made, and continue to make, a distinct economic contribution to Australia [for example] through their role as entrepreneurs” [31] (p. 16).

4. Concluding Insights and Future Research Directions

The purpose of this paper has been to initiate a qualitative examination upon the emerging body of knowledge into refugee entrepreneurship, identifying the dominant research patterns and insights. We have endeavored to classify the current academic contributions as well as their thematic and theoretical approaches in order to characterize and frame what has largely remained peripheral, for issues that have mostly concerned the “Global South”, now coming to the center of academic interest.
As we have seen, central authors are the dominant group of academics publishing on the subject, with a pointed interest on entrepreneurial activities that take place in the “Global North”. Nevertheless, the overwhelming ebbs and flows of refugee waves are still taking place in developing country contexts; yet, voices from these parts of the world are hardly heard. Future studies cast across these geographies would enrich the empirical and theoretical discourse, as would discussions between authors and critical examinations of empirical work. There are but a few researchers who have deepened their analyses of refugee entrepreneurs by examining their data from more than one angle. Namely, these are Basok [89,137] (from within Costa Rica), Crush and colleagues [103,108,109,138,139] (from within South Africa), Gold [32,66,67,68,69,70] (mainly from within the USA), Kachkar [83,84] (across the “Global South”) and Wauters and Lambrecht [25,71,72] (from experiences in Belgium). Furthermore, as refugees’ propensity for entrepreneurship can already be evidenced [37,38], multilevel studies on the particularities of their impact would be useful for informing future policies and social schemes.
We find that studies are expanding, both in number and in the variety of populations being explored. Up to 2018, however, most have appeared in relatively low-impact international outlets and there has been negligible cross-citation amongst researchers), delineating the field as yet an emerging one. To note, the natural research-to-publication timeframe, which can take years, has contributed in part to the existing paucity in cross-citation. We expect, however, that new research interest, prompted by the 2015 “refugee crisis” [29,30] will lead to deeper engagement between researchers and disciplines. About two thirds of the research draws upon qualitative, exploratory, inductive methods that result in descriptive analyses, with a dearth of longitudinal, quantitative, and comparative studies. We have further observed that refugee entrepreneurship has often been subsumed in studies on migrant entrepreneurship [25,34,63,71,72] as a result of taken-for-granted assumptions about the similarities between the groups. This tendency is analogous to the androcentrism noted in research by Baker, Aldrich and Liou [128] two decades ago. Thus, as research progresses, we anticipate a greater consideration as to the ontological differences between forced and unforced migrants, leading to stronger conceptualizations and theoretical considerations that are specific to refugee entrepreneurs.
Considering the super-diversity of refugee populations and their businesses [20,21,22], we have perceived three waves of research within the literature. These demonstrate that overall theoretical approaches for the studies are still very much being negotiated, as they largely lean upon the more established fields of migrant entrepreneurship and immigration studies, including ethnic entrepreneurship, social capital and network theories, ethnic enclaves, mixed embeddedness, and other economic and welfare theories, as well as livelihood approaches. Micro-level theories have also been applied in examinations about individual motivations, identity building, and personal traits. Up to the cut-off date of this literature review (2018) we find that there is paucity in contributions that involve the impact and multiplicity of contexts [140] and their effects on refugee entrepreneurship.
In addition, three main thematic clusters emerged from the examined research. Firstly, there are strong arguments for establishing a distinct field of research that unfolds insights onto refugee entrepreneurs separately from migrant or immigrant entrepreneurs. In the words of Mitra [141] (p.vii): “Danger, persecution, disorder, desperation and mobility—five words which define the refugee experience fragment their weltanschauung, are not part of the common discourse of entrepreneurship, or for that matter economic activity in general. Since refugees are more often than not even allowed to earn a living in countries where they find themselves tossed into, the five-word construct creates surreal possibilities of endeavor”. A few contributions among our pool of literature stand out as initiating a systematic, conceptual positioning of refugee entrepreneurship within the wider fields of immigrant and ethnic entrepreneurship (e.g., [25,31,33,34,63,71,72,104,116,119].
In the second thematic cluster, the literature has focused on factors that influence refugee entrepreneurship such as cultural and communication aspects, competition, social, human and cultural capital, uncertainty, institutional roles, and il/legality, among others. Finally, we have demonstrated in a third thematic cluster, that the impact of refugee entrepreneurship has become of increasing interest, particularly with respect to integration, livelihood, social capital, and identity, as well as multiplier effects on urban and cultural communities, and national labor markets more generally.
We have identified a number of weaknesses in the field, starting with the almost total absence of important groups of asylum seekers and refugees from the literature, which may be attributed to problems with political and legal recognition. For example, studies on entrepreneurship by Palestinians (e.g., [142,143]), Bidoons, Kurds, Rohingya, Sahrawi, and several other populations did not figure in the current literature review, possibly due to identification and definitional (and academic keyword) issues, which are being disputed in global political arenas. We have argued that refugee entrepreneurship narratives are only recently lifting from peripheral silences, yet there are non-recognized groups of migrant entrepreneurs that remain altogether muted. Not benefiting from the protected status of “refugee”, large populations are sometimes designated as “stateless” [144], forced migrants or displaced—both in academic texts and socio-politically. As a result, this compounds the intrinsic invisibility of refugee entrepreneurship studies in general, and the persistent invisibility of other populations in contentious contexts.
We also perceive a lack of attention paid to refugee entrepreneurs’ histories and biographical narratives, also through a context lens [140], sometimes neglected altogether. The empirical questions examined in the literature we have reviewed have mostly failed to take into account influencing factors from refugees’ experiences in COOs and their refuge journeys, despite these aspects differentiating them from all other entrepreneurial migrant groups. Moreover, although some have applied migration theories to their analyses, none of the sources examined herein have specifically drawn upon refugee theory (e.g., [9]), which would help deepen problematizations related to refugee entrepreneurs’ distinctiveness. An additional shortcoming is the lack of attention to country-specific demand-side factors, such as opportunity structure, market conditions, and regulatory issues. Alarmingly, the unequal gender bias that still largely characterizes entrepreneurship studies and migrant entrepreneurship [145] utterly permeates research into refugee entrepreneurship. Within the whole, Gürsel [110] highlights the need for a critical observation upon the “figure of the refugee entrepreneur”, also taking into account the possibility of neoliberal [35] “exploitation and precarity that go along with further stratification and hierarchization” [110] (p. 143). Such missing features set out a strong agenda for future studies, strengthening the theoretical contributions within the field and establishing it as one that is distinct.
This article is a first attempt at systematically reviewing and synthesizing our existing academic knowledge of refugee entrepreneurship. Future literature reviews would benefit from more specific consideration of refugee camp economies as well as refugee entrepreneurship in the informal sectors, where different modes of entrepreneurship may be examined, along with innovation [146].
As common across literature reviews, where chosen exclusion criteria have delimited the scope of analysis, our paper has some limitations. Here, reports and conference proceedings were not considered, as the endeavor was to examine the development of refugee entrepreneurship as an academic field of research, rather than its development as a political, social, or special topic, or contend it as a trend. Nevertheless, we must acknowledge the sheer volume and quality of published reports that are also building an important body of knowledge (e.g., [38,81,108,138,139,146,147,148,149,150,151,152,153], along with the growing number of conference proceedings (e.g., through the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference, International Council for Small Business Conference [www.icsb.org], and the Research and Entrepreneurship and Small Business Conference [www.rent-research.org]), and specialized conferences, such as the International Conference on Migration and Diaspora Entrepreneurship (www.mde-conference.com), hosted by Bremen University and the Refugee Entrepreneurship Summit, led by the Centre for Entrepreneurs (www.centreforentrepreneurs.org). Such vitality is very encouraging and highlights how refugee entrepreneurship is increasingly legitimizing. We therefore expect strong progress in academic publications in coming years.

Author Contributions

The paper was conjointly produced by S.H. and R.L.I. who equally contributed to the iterative and final versions. The structure and analysis resulted from close collaboration and production. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Funding

This research received no external funding.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Appendix A. Additional Tables

Table A1. Year of Publication, Author(s), and Publication Type.
Table A1. Year of Publication, Author(s), and Publication Type.
Year of PublicationAuthor(s)
1986Fass
1988Gold
1989Basok
1990Moore
1991Gold
1992Gold*; Gold; LaTowsky and Grierson
1993Basok *
1994Gold **; Singh
1995Halter **; Smith-Hefner **
1997Kaplan
1998Miyares
2000Johnson
2002Hiebert
2003Kibreab; Mamgain and Collins; Ong *; Serdedakis, Tsiolis, Tzanakis and Papaioannou
2006Fuller-Love, Lim and Akehurst; Garnham; Wauters and Lambrecht
2007Campbell **; Fong et al.; Lyon, Sepulveda and Syrett; Wauters and Lambrecht **
2008Sheridan **; Tömöry; Wauters and Lambrecht
2009Halkias et al.
2010Abt **
2011Ayadurai
2012Dana
2013Gonzales, Forrest and Balos; Hugo; Sabar and Posner
2014Călin-Ştefan; Gold; Morais; Omeje and Mwangi; Pulla and Kharel; Ranalli; Şaul
2015Beehner; De Jager; Ilcan and Rygiel; Northcote and Dodson **; Raijman and Barak-Bianco
2016Abdel Jabbar and Ibrahim Zaza; Elo and Vemuri; Kachkar, Mohammed, Saad and Kayadibi; Sánchez Piñeiro and Saavedra; van Kooy
2017Betts, Omata and Bloom; Bizri; Bujaki, Gaudet and Iuliano; Crush and McCordic; Crush, Tawodzera, McCordic and Ramachandran; David and Coenen **; Gürsel; Kachkar; Lankov, Ward, Yoo and Kim; Omata; Scott and Getahun *; Suter
2018Sandberg, Immonen and Kok 1
1 Following our literature review protocol, this article’s pre-publication version was identified from Bizri’s [26] list of references. * = Book, ** = Book Chapter, All Others = Journal Articles.
Table A2. Journal Information.
Table A2. Journal Information.
JournalAuthor(s)YearField of JournalCountryImpact Factor (Thomson Reuters) *H Index **SJR
(2017) ***
CiteScore (2018)SNIP (2018)
African and Black Diaspora: An International JournalSuter2017Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences (Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Demography, Sociology,
and Political Science)
UK0.3007Q3
0.112
0.360.702
African Geographical ReviewOmata2017Earth and Planetary Sciences
(Earth-Surface Processes);
Social Sciences (Geography,
Planning and Development)
UK1.24210Q2
0.432
1.440.753
African Human Mobility ReviewCrush and McCordic 2017Socio-Economic,
Political, Legislative and
Development of Human
Mobility in Africa;
Migrant Relations
South AfricaNot listed
Crush, Tawodzera, McCordic and Ramachandran2017
Asian Journal of Business and Management SciencesAyadurai2011Management, Organizational Behavior, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Accounting and Finance, Production and Operations Management, Human Resources Management, Strategic Management, MarketingMalaysiaNot listed
Critical Perspectives on AccountingBujaki, Gaudet and Iuliano2017Business, Management and Accounting; Decision Sciences (Information Systems
and Management);
Economics, Econometrics and
Finance; Social Sciences (Sociology
And Political Science)
USA4.01057Q1
1.773
4.211.961
Diaspora
Studies
Elo and Vemuri 2016Social Sciences (Demography, Geography, Planning and Development, Political Sciences
and International Relations)
UK0.5653Q3
0.211
0.741.135
Economic GeographyKaplan1997Economics, Econometrics and
Finance (Economics and Econometrics); Social Sciences (Geography,
Planning and Development)
UK5.09174Q1
2.501
5.312.366
Economic SociologyRaijman and Barak-Bianco2015Economics, Social SciencesGermany Not listed
Entrepreneurship and Regional DevelopmentBizri2017Business, Management and
Accounting (Business and International Management); Economics, Econometrics and Finance
UK3.08175Q1
1.461
3.621.352
Ethnic and
Racial Studies
Gold1988Sociology and Political Sciences, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Sociology, and Political SciencesUK1.38779Q1
0.977
1.671.263
Food, Culture, and SocietySabar and Posner2013Agricultural and Biological
Sciences (Food Science); Psychology (Social Psychology); Social
Sciences (Cultural Studies)
UK0.83317Q3
0.334
1.10.867
Forced Migration ReviewSánchez Piñeiro and Saavedra2016Social SciencesUKNot listed
van Kooy2016
Hungarian Studies ReviewTömöry2008Hungarian StudiesCanadaNot listed
Immigrants and MinoritiesMoore1990Social Sciences; DemographyUK0.23115Q4
0.104
0.40.515
International Entrepreneurship and Management JournalFuller-Love, Lim and Akehurst2006Business, Management and
Accounting (Management of Information Systems; Management
of Technology and Innovation)
Germany2.93841Q2
0.746
4.011.814
Wauters and Lambrecht2006
International Journal of Adolescence
and Youth
Abdel Jabbar and Ibrahim Zaza2016Social Sciences; HealthUK0.79212Q3
0.295
1.530.905
International Journal of Business Innovation and ResearchHalkias et al.2009Business, Management and Accounting, Business and International Management, Management of Technology and InnovationUK0.73118Q3
0.280
0.640.394
International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small BusinessDana2012Business, Management
and Accounting (Business
and International
Management); Economics, Econometrics and Finance
UK1.13126Q3
0.401
1.14 0.665
Sandberg, Immonen
and Kok
2018
International MigrationHugo2013Social Sciences (Demography)UK1.30456Q2
0.887
1.250.903
International Migration ReviewFass1986Arts and Humanities; Social
Sciences (Demography)
USA1.82686Q1
1.641
2.091.365
Kibreab2003
International Political SociologyIlcan and Rygiel2015Social Sciences, Sociology, and
Political Sciences
UK2.27534Q1
1.465
2.471.583
International Review of SociologySerdedakis, Tsiolis,
Tzanakis and Papaioannou
2003Social Sciences (Sociology and
Political Sciences)
UK0.68320Q3
0.206
0.970.59
ISRA International Journal of
Islamic Finance
Kachkar2017Economics, Econometrics
and Finance; Social Sciences (Development)
UKN/A; only 2017<2Q4
No data
0.270.441
Journal of
Asian and African Social Science and Humanities
Kachkar, Mohammed, Saad and Kayadibi2016Humanities and
the Social Sciences
Canada
Philippines
Republic of Maldives
Australia
Bangladesh
Not listed
Journal of Community Positive PracticesGonzales, Forrest and Balos2013Social Research in
the Social Sciences
RomaniaNot listed
Journal of Contemporary EthnographyGold2014Arts and Humanities (Language and Linguistics); Social Sciences (Anthropology Sociology and Political Science); Urban StudiesUSA1.03746Q1
0.580
1.521.007
Journal of East Asian StudiesLankov, Ward, Yoo and Kim2017Economics, Econometrics and Finance; Economics and Econometrics; Social Sciences (Development, Political Science and International Relations, Sociology and Political Science)UK1.18820Q2
0.590
1.11.133
Journal of EntrepreneurshipSingh1994Business, Management and
Accounting (Business and
International Management; Strategy and Management); Economics, Econometrics and Finance
USA0.81811Q3
0.405
1.310.828
Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in
Social Work
Fong et al.2007Social Sciences (Education,
Health, Social Work)
USA0.21123Q4
0.163
1.160.717
Journal of Ethnic and Migration StudiesWauters and Lambrecht2008Arts and Humanities;
Social Sciences (Demography)
UK2.20175Q1
1.486
2.911.852
Journal of International AffairsBeehner2015International RelationsUSANot listed
Journal on Migration and Human SecurityBetts, Omata and Bloom2017Political Science, Colonies and Colonization, Emigration and Immigration, International MigrationUSANot listed
Journal of
Refugee Studies
Mamgain and Collins2003Social Sciences (Geography, Planning and Development; Political Sciences and International Relations)UK1.54945Q1
1.197
2.111.945
Ranalli2014
Journal of Small Business ManagementJohnson2000Social Sciences (Geography, Planning and Development; Political Sciences and International Relations); Business, Management and Accounting (Management of Technology and Innovation; Strategy and Management)UK3.71294Q1
1.337
5.29
2.109
Journal of Third World StudiesOmeje and Mwangi2014Social Sciences (Development; Geography, Planning and Development, Political Science and International Relations)USA0.00010Q4
0.114
-0.025
Labour, Capital and SocietyBasok1989Social Sciences (Demography; Geography, Planning and Development)Canada0.30010Q4
0.109
-0.0
Labour, Employment
and Work in
New Zealand
Garnham2006Labor RelationsNew ZealandNot listed
Local EconomyLyon, Sepulveda and Syrett2007Economics; Econometrics;
Finance
USA1.21132Q2
0.407
1.250.772
Movements, Journal for Critical Migration and Border Regime StudiesGürsel2017MigrationGermanyNot listed
Review of
Policy Research
Gold1992bEnvironment Science (Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law); Social Sciences (Geography Planning and Development, Public Administration)UK1.35940Q2
0.637
2.070.838
Romanian
Journal of
Political Sciences
Călin-Ştefan2014Social SciencesRomaniaNot listed
Small Enterprise Development LaTowsky and Grierson1992(Currently under the name Enterprise Development and Microfinance, An International Journal) Business, Banking, Markets, FinanceUKNot listed
South African Journal on Human RightsDe Jager2015Social Sciences (Law,
Sociology and Political Sciences)
UK0.20011Q4
0.117
0.270.356
Space and Culture, IndiaPulla and Kharel2014Arts and Humanities; Business, Management and Accounting (Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management); Social Sciences (Cultural Studies; Geography, Planning and Development; Urban Studies)UK0.4636Q2
0.308
0.280.408
Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografieHiebert2002Economics, Econometrics and
Finance; Economics and Econometrics; Social Sciences (Geography,
Planning and Development)
UK0.95248Q2
0.649
1.220.69
Urban Anthropology
and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development
Morais2014Social Sciences
(Anthropology;
Geography,
Planning and Development;
Urban Studies)
USA-16Not listed; Coverage was <2015
Şaul2014
Urban GeographyMiyares1998Social Sciences (Geography, Planning and Development; Urban Studies)UK2.60558Q1
1.183
2.991.585
Visual Sociology Studies Gold1991Empirical Visual Research UKNot listed
* Based on InCites Journal Citation Report—Thomson Reuters 2017 (2 years). ** In SJR the H factor is available only for the date of access. *** We chose the lower option when there was a conflict between categories.

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Figure 1. Search protocol.
Figure 1. Search protocol.
Sustainability 12 07658 g001
Figure 2. Publications over time < 2018.
Figure 2. Publications over time < 2018.
Sustainability 12 07658 g002
Table 1. Citation and Cross-Citation Analysis.1
Table 1. Citation and Cross-Citation Analysis.1
YearAuthor(s)Worldwide Citation CountCross-Citations Among the Pool of Our Sources
2003Ong11000
1992aGold (Book)4277 (Gold, 1991 [as forthcoming], 1994, 2014; Johnson, 2000;
Miyares, 1998; Sheridan, 2008; Smith-Hefner, 1995)
2003Kibreab770
1997Kaplan700
1988Gold689 (Gold, 1991, 1992a, 1992b, 1994; Halter, 1995; Miyares, 1998;
Wauters and Lambrecht, 2006, 2007, 2008)
1994Gold581 (Halter, 1995)
1991Gold551 (Mamgain and Collins, 2003)
2003Mamgain and Collins470
2000Johnson400
2002Hiebert380
2006Fuller-Love, Lim and Akehurst330
1986Fass310
2009Halkias et al. 270
2003Serdedakis, Tsiolis,
Tzanakis and Papaioannou
230
1993Basok221 (Kibreab, 2003)
2007Lyon, Sepulveda and Syrett212 (Kachkar, Mohammed, Saad and Kayadibi, 2016; Raijman and Barak-Bianco, 2015)
2008Wauters and Lambrecht19+3 (Bizri, 2017; Raijman and Barak-Bianco, 2015; Sandberg, Immonen and Kok, 2018)
1992bGold (Journal)197 (Fong et al., 2007; Fuller-Love, Lim and Akehurst, 2006; Raijman and
Barak-Bianco, 2015; Tömöry, 2008; Wauters and Lambrecht, 2006, 2007, 2008)
2007Fong et al.18+1 (Sandberg, Immonen and Kok, 2018)
2013Hugo160
1998Miyares140
2015Ilcan and Rygiel130
2006Wauters and Lambrecht11+4 (Fuller-Love, Lim and Akehurst, 2006; Lyon, Sepulveda and Syrett, 2007; Sandberg, Immonen and Kok, 2018; Wauters and Lambrecht, 2008)
1989Basok101 (Basok, 1993)
2015Beehner100
2007Campbell80
1992LaTowsky and Grierson 70
1995Smith-Hefner50
2014Gold50
2007Wauters and Lambrecht 4+1 (Sandberg, Immonen and Kok, 2018)
1990Moore40
1994Singh40
1995Halter 41 (Gold 1994 [as in press])
2013Sabar and Posner41 (Raijman and Barak-Bianco, 2015)
2014Ranalli40
2014Şaul40
2012Dana30
2014Omeje and Mwangi30
2016Abdel Jabbar and Ibrahim Zaza30
2008Sheridan20
2008Tömöry20
2015Raijman and Barak-Bianco20
2017Betts, Omata and Bloom20
2017David and Coenen20
2017Lankov, Ward, Yoo and Kim20
2017Suter20
2016Elo and Vemuri1+1 (Sandberg, Immonen and Kok, 2018)
2006Garnham10
2014Călin-Ştefan10
2014Pulla and Kharel10
2015De Jager10
2015Northcote and Dodson10
2016Kachkar, Mohammed,
Saad and Kayadibi
10
2016van Kooy10
2018Sandberg, Immonen and Kok11 (Bizri, 2017)
The following 13 publications had not yet been cited (to the end of 2017): Abt, 2010; Ayadurai, 2011; Bizri, 2017; Bujaki,
Gaudet and Iuliano, 2017; Crush and McCordic, 2017; Crush, Tawodzera, McCordic and Ramachandran, 2017; Forrest and Balos, 2013;
Gonzales, Gürsel, 2017; Kachkar, 2017; Morais, 2014; Omara, 2017; Sánchez Piñeiro and Saavedra, 2016; Scott and Getahun, 2017.
1 Using Google Scholar and Scopus; “+” denotes that there is an additional 2018 citation from our literature pool’s sources, not counted in the worldwide citation count; date of citation search was 24 April 2018.
Table 2. First Wave (19/68, 28%) of Studies on Refugee Entrepreneurship: Refuge from WWI, WWII, and the Former Soviet Union.
Table 2. First Wave (19/68, 28%) of Studies on Refugee Entrepreneurship: Refuge from WWI, WWII, and the Former Soviet Union.
Author(s), YearCOODataCOR
Abt, 2010Central Europe, Former Soviet, and LiberiaData from the 1930s to 2010USA
Dana, 2012Syria Historical and Post-WWIIEgypt and USA
Moore, 1990Germany Data from the 1930sNetherlands
Tömöry, 2008Hungary and CubaHungarian arrivals in 1956 and Cuban arrivals in 1959Canada
Bujaki, Gaudet and
Iuliano, 2017
HungaryData from 1958–2011 Canada
Halter, 1995Former Soviet Union Data from 1975–1986USA
Gold, 1991VietnamData from 1982–1989USA
Gold, 2014Former Soviet Union, Israel and VietnamData from 1982–1994France, Israel,
UK and USA
Fass, 1986Hmong (China,
Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar
and Thailand)
Data from 1983USA
Gold 1994Former Soviet Union Data from the early-1980s
to the early-1990s
USA
Gold, 1988, 1992a, 1992bFormer Soviet Union
and Vietnam
Data from the early-1980s
to the early-1990s
USA
Smith-Hefner, 1995Cambodia (Sino-Khmer)Data from 1991USA
Johnson, 2000Vietnam (Boat People)
and Laos
Data from 1991–1993Canada
Miyares, 1998Former Soviet Union Data from 1993–1994USA
Serdedakis, Tsiolis, Tzanakis and Papaioannou, 2003Former Soviet UnionData from 1997–2000Greece
Lankov, Ward, Yoo
and Kim, 2017
North KoreaData from the
late-1990s to 2011
South Korea
Elo and Vemuri, 2016Post-Soviet Bukharians (Central Asia)Data from 2012–2015Israel, Germany and USA
Table 3. Second Wave (21/68, 31%) of Studies on Refugee Entrepreneurship: Refuge from Developing Countries to Developed Countries.
Table 3. Second Wave (21/68, 31%) of Studies on Refugee Entrepreneurship: Refuge from Developing Countries to Developed Countries.
Author(s), YearCOODataCOR
Morais, 2014AfricanArrivals 1987–2008, data collected 2011–2013Macao S.A.R. and Portugal
Kibreab, 2003VariousNot specified, but <2003Various
David and Coenen, 2017VariousNot specified, but <2017Germany
and the Netherlands
Scott and Getahun, 2017EthiopiaArrivals in the late-1960s to the early-1970s,
data collected <2017
USA
Ong, 2003Cambodia and
Southeast Asia
Data from the 1980sUSA
Sheridan, 2008VietnamData from the early-
1980s and the 1990s
Ireland
Kaplan, 1997Vietnam, Cambodia
and Laos
Data from the 1990sUSA
Hiebert, 2002VariousData from the mid-1990s to the late 1990sCanada
Sandberg, Immonen
and Kok, 2018
Palestine, Iraq,
Iran and Vietnam
Arrivals in the 1970s
and in the 2000s,
data from <2016
Sweden
Hugo, 2013VariousData from 1993–2009Australia
Wauters and Lambrecht, 2006, 2007, 2008 VariousData from 1997–2003Belgium
Mamgain and Collins, 2003VariousData from 2000–2003USA
Fuller-Love, Lim
and Akehurst, 2006
VariousNot specified, but <2006Various
Garnham, 2006VariousNot specified, but <2006New Zealand
Fong et al., 2007Cuba, Iran,
Macedonia and Nigeria
Not specified, but <2007USA
Lyon, Sepulveda and Syrett, 2007Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Somalia and SudanNot specified, but <2007UK
Halkias et al., 2009Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and other African countriesNot specified, but <2009Greece
Gonzales, Forrest and Balos, 2013Iraq, Somalia, Togo
and Uzbekistan
Data from 2012USA
van Kooy, 2016VariousData from 2015Australia
Table 4. Third Wave (28/68, 41%) of Studies on Refugee Entrepreneurship: Refuge from Developing Countries to Other Developing Countries.
Table 4. Third Wave (28/68, 41%) of Studies on Refugee Entrepreneurship: Refuge from Developing Countries to Other Developing Countries.
Author(s), YearCOODataCOR
Singh, 1994PakistanData from the late 1940s to the early 1990sIndia
Basok, 1989, 1993El SalvadorData from 1985–1986Costa Rica
LaTowsky and Grierson, 1992VariousData from 1985–1987Somalia
Ranalli, 2014VariousData from 2000–2013Kenya and the Netherlands
Campbell, 2007Burundi, D. R. C., Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and UgandaData from 2003–2004Kenya
Ilcan and Rygiel, 2015VariousData from 2005–2015 Various
Suter, 2017Burundi, D. R. C., Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and SudanData from 2007–2009Turkey
Sabar and Posner, 2013Eritrea and SudanData from 2009–2011Israel
Ayadurai, 2011Afghanistan, Myanmar, Somalia and Sri LankaData from 2010 Malaysia
Omeje and Mwangi, 2014SomaliaData from 2011Kenya
Abdel Jabbar and
Ibrahim Zaza, 2016
SyriaData from 2011–2012 Jordan
Călin-Ştefan, 2014SyriaData from 2011–2014Armenia
Pulla and Kharel, 2014TibetData from 2012Nepal
Beehner, 2015SyriaData from 2012–2013Jordan
De Jager, 2015VariousData from 2012–2015South Africa
Betts, Omata and Bloom, 2017Various African countriesData from 2013 Uganda
Northcote and Dodson, 2015Continental AfricaData from 2013 South Africa
Şaul, 2014Sub-Saharan AfricaNot specified, but <2014Turkey
Gürsel, 2017SyriaData from 2014–2016Turkey
Raijman and Barak-Bianco, 2015Eritrea and SudanNot specified, but <2015Israel
Sánchez Piñeiro and
Saavedra, 2016
ColumbiaData from 2016 Ecuador
Kachkar, Mohammed, Saad
and Kayadibi, 2016
VariousNot specified, but <2016Malaysia
Kachkar, 2017VariousNot specified, but <2017Various
Crush and McCordic, 2017VariousNot specified, but <2017South Africa
Crush, Tawodzera, McCordic and Ramachandran, 2017VariousNot specified, but <2017South Africa
Bizri, 2017SyriaNot specified, but <2017Lebanon
Omata, 2017LiberiaNot specified, but <2017 Ghana
Table 5. Research Focus, by Authors.
Table 5. Research Focus, by Authors.
Research Objectives and Highlighted ThemesSources
Wave 1
(Table 2)
Wave 2
(Table 3)
Wave 3
(Table 4)
Characteristics of Refugee EntrepreneurshipAbt, 2010; Bujaki, Gaudet and Iuliano, 2017; Dana, 2012; Elo and Vemuri, 2016; Gold, 1988, 1992a, 1992b, 1994; Halter, 1995; Johnson, 2000; Lankov, Ward, Yoo and Kim, 2017; Moore, 1990; Morais, 2014; Smith-Hefner, 1995; Tömöry, 2008Fong et al., 2007;
Fuller-Love, Lim and Akehurst, 2006; Garnham, 2006; Halkias et al., 2009; Kaplan, 1997; Lyon, Sepulveda and Syrett, 2007; Mamgain and Collins, 2003;
Ong, 2003; Sandberg, Immonen and Kok, 2018; Sheridan, 2008; Wauters
and Lambrecht, 2006, 2007, 2008
Basok, 1989, 1993; Bizri, 2017; Campbell, 2007; Crush and McCordic, 2017; Crush, Tawodzera, McCordic and Ramachandran, 2017; Gürsel, 2017; Ilcan and Rygiel, 2015; Northcote and Dodson, 2015; Singh, 1994
Differences Between Refugee and Immigrant Entrepreneurs/hipGold, 1988, 1992b, 2014; Johnson, 2000Garnham, 2006;
Hiebert, 2002;
Hugo, 2013; Kaplan, 1997; Mamgain and Collins, 2003; Ong, 2003; Sandberg, Immonen and Kok, 2018; Wauters and
Lambrecht, 2007, 2008
Crush and McCordic, 2017
Type of Businesses/
Economic/Social Activities Being Established/
Employed
Dana, 2012; Gold, 1988, 1992a, 1992b, 2014; Halter, 1995; Johnson, 2000; Lankov, Ward, Yoo and Kim, 2017; Miyares, 1998; Morais, 2014Gonzales, Forrest and
Balos, 2013; Halkias et al., 2009; Kaplan, 1997;
Ong, 2003; Sandberg, Immonen and Kok, 2018; Scott and Getahun, 2017; Sepulveda, Syrett and Lyon, 2011; Wauters and Lambrecht, 2007
Basok, 1989, 1993; Bizri, 2017; Campbell, 2007; Crush and McCordic, 2017; Crush, Tawodzera, McCordic and Ramachandran, 2017; Pulla and Kharel, 2014; Raijman and Barak-Bianco, 2015; Sabar and Posner, 2013; Şaul, 2014; Singh, 1994
Challenges Faced by Refugee Entrepreneurs and Organizations Dealing with Refugee EntrepreneurshipElo and Vemuri, 2016; Gold, 1988, 1992a, 1992b; 1994, 2014; Morais, 2014; Serdedakis, Tsiolis, Tzanakis and Papaioannou, 2003David and Coenen, 2017; Fong et al., 2007; Garnham, 2006;
Halkias et al., 2009;
Lyon, Sepulveda and Syrett, 2007; Ong, 2003; Sandberg, Immonen and Kok, 2018; Scott and Getahun, 2017;
Sheridan, 2008; Wauters and Lambrecht, 2006, 2007, 2008
Ayadurai, 2011; Basok, 1989, 1993; Betts, Omata and Bloom, 2017; Bizri, 2017; Campbell, 2007; Crush, Tawodzera, McCordic and Ramachandran, 2017; De Jager, 2015; Ilcan and Rygiel, 2015; Kachkar, 2017; Kachkar, Mohammed, Saad and Kayadibi, 2016; Northcote and Dodson, 2015; Omata 2017; Omeje and Mwangi, 2014; Pulla and Kharel, 2014; Raijman and Barak-Bianco, 2015; Ranalli, 2014; Şaul, 2014
Entrepreneurial Intentions of Refugees and Training Programs/ Assistance for RefugeesGold, 1988, 1992b,
1994, 2014; Fass, 1986; Halter, 1995; Johnson, 2000; Miyares, 1998; Morais, 2014; Serdedakis, Tsiolis, Tzanakis and Papaioannou, 2003; Tömöry, 2008
Mamgain and Collins, 2003; Ong, 2003;
Scott and Getahun, 2017; van Kooy, 2016;
Wauters and Lambrecht, 2006, 2007, 2008
Abdel Jabbar and Ibrahim Zaza, 2016; Crush and McCordic, 2017; Kachkar, 2017; Kachkar, Mohammed, Saad and Kayadibi, 2016; LaTowsky and Grierson, 1992; Omata 2017; Raijman and Barak-Bianco, 2015; Ranalli, 2014; Sánchez Piñeiro and Saavedra, 2016; Singh, 1994
Policy IssuesFass, 1986; Lankov, Ward, Yoo and Kim, 2017; Miyares, 1998; Moore, 1990; Serdedakis, Tsiolis, Tzanakis and Papaioannou, 2003; Tömöry, 2008David and Coenen, 2017; Garnham, 2006;
Halkias et al., 2009; Kibreab, 2003;
Lyon, Sepulveda
and Syrett, 2007;
van Kooy, 2016; Wauters and Lambrecht, 2008
Basok, 1989, 1993; Beehner,
2015; Călin-Ştefan, 2014; Campbell, 2007; Crush and McCordic, 2017; Gürsel, 2017; Ilcan and Rygiel, 2015; Kachkar, Mohammed, Saad and Kayadibi, 2016; Omeje and Mwangi, 2014; Raijman and Barak-Bianco,
2015; Ranalli, 2014; Sánchez Piñeiro and Saavedra, 2016
Impact of Refugee Entrepreneurship (e.g., on the
new COR, societies, sense making, etc.)
Elo and Vemuri, 2016; Gold, 1991, 1992a, 1992b, 1994, 2014; Johnson, 2000; Moore, 1990; Serdedakis, Tsiolis, Tzanakis and Papaioannou, 2003; van Kooy, 2016David and Coenen, 2017; Garnham, 2006; Gonzales, Forrest and Balos, 2013; Hugo, 2013; Kaplan, 1997; Lyon, Sepulveda and Syrett, 2007; Mamgain and Collins, 2003; Ong, 2003; Sheridan, 2008;
Wauters and Lambrecht, 2006, 2007, 2008
Abdel Jabbar and Ibrahim Zaza, 2016; Basok, 1989, 1993; Crush and McCordic, 2017; Crush, Tawodzera, McCordic and Ramachandran, 2017; Ilcan and Rygiel, 2015; Pulla and Kharel, 2014; Sabar and Posner, 2013; Sánchez Piñeiro and Saavedra, 2016; Şaul, 2014; Suter, 2017
Camp Economies and Refugee Businesses; Livelihoods Betts, Omata and Bloom, 2017; Ilcan and Rygiel, 2015; Northcote and Dodson, 2015; Omata 2017; Ranalli, 2014
Table 6. Methods Used in Refugee Entrepreneurship Research.
Table 6. Methods Used in Refugee Entrepreneurship Research.
Methods UsedNumber (Total 68)Frequency
Qualitative methods (e.g., ethnography, field
observations, focus groups, interviews)
3957.5%
Quantitative methods (e.g., statistics, surveys)913.2%
Mixed methods913.2%
Other or not relevant1116.1%

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Heilbrunn, S.; Iannone, R.L. From Center to Periphery and Back Again: A Systematic Literature Review of Refugee Entrepreneurship. Sustainability 2020, 12, 7658. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187658

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Heilbrunn S, Iannone RL. From Center to Periphery and Back Again: A Systematic Literature Review of Refugee Entrepreneurship. Sustainability. 2020; 12(18):7658. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187658

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Heilbrunn, Sibylle, and Rosa Lisa Iannone. 2020. "From Center to Periphery and Back Again: A Systematic Literature Review of Refugee Entrepreneurship" Sustainability 12, no. 18: 7658. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187658

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