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Motivation and driving forces of Turkish entrepreneurs in Switzerland

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Over the past decades many Turkish immigrants have entered the Western European economies and a number of them and their descendants have started their own businesses. Gradually, Turkish entrepreneurs have become an indigenous and significant part of the local economy, in particular in the major cities of Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Although many studies have been conducted to understand the “Turkish entrepreneurship phenomenon”, especially in Germany and the Netherlands, the studies on migrant entrepreneurship have been limited in Switzerland. One reason for this limited interest may be the decreasing trend in recent years in the total entrepreneurial activity rate in Switzerland. Factors such as socio-cultural norms, government policy and the education system of the country have led people to prefer working in paid jobs rather than become entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, in these circumstances Turkish entrepreneurs in Switzerland attract attention by their high level of entrepreneurial activities. The present article aims to investigate the phenomenon of Turkish entrepreneurship in two major cities in Switzerland, Geneva and Zurich, which have high levels of foreign population, by addressing the motivation and driving forces of Turkish immigrants to become entrepreneurs. The data and information used for the evaluation are based on in-depth personal interviews held in 2005 among Turkish entrepreneurs in the service and catering sectors. The results of our study show that, following the immigration wave in the 1980s, entrepreneurship among Turkish immigrants emerged in the 1990s and accelerated in the 2000s. The results of our study also show that, unlike the general trend in Switzerland, the movement from wage employment to self-employment is very common among Turkish immigrants.
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Keywords: Switzerland; Turkish entrepreneurs; Turkish immigrants; entrepreneurship and innovation; migrant entrepreneurship

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Istanbul Technical University, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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