Lupe fa'alele : releasing the doves : factors affecting the successful operation of Samoan businesses in New Zealand : a thesis presented in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology, Massey University, New Zealand
This thesis explores levels of Samoan entrepreneurship in New Zealand. It identifies unique challenges and opportunities Samoan entrepreneurs face when establishing businesses in a migrant setting. There is a growing body of knowledge in New Zealand on ethnic businesses, in particular, what constitutes an ethnic business, what facilitates and impedes their success, and the contribution they make to the New Zealand economy. Samoan entrepreneurship, however, remains an academic terra nova. Little is understood about what Samoan entrepreneurship looks like; is there a typical Samoan business, for example; what sorts of challenges do they face when negotiating and navigating cultural and business challenges in the New Zealand business environment; and what does this all mean in terms of success in both the business and community contexts? This thesis considers a qualitative research approach to investigate the lived experiences of Samoan entrepreneurs in New Zealand. The research draws on the experiences of fifteen male and six female Samoan entrepreneurs. The participants interviewed for this study included entrepreneurs who were born and educated in Samoa, those born in Samoa and partly educated in both Samoa and New Zealand, and entrepreneurs born and educated in New Zealand. The research examines how entrepreneurs differ from one another in the way they operate their businesses and the manner in which they negotiate their obligations towards family, religion, community and business responsibilities. Earlier literature on ethnic entrepreneurship has emphasized the importance of ‘social embeddedness’ of entrepreneurs in their social and community networks as key factors in operating a successful business. This study however looks to build on and extend this concept to a mixed embeddedness focus that highlights the combination of cultural, institutional, structural elements of the business environment and relevant strategies that entrepreneurs use to create a successful business. The findings in the study emphasize that the mixed embedded approach produces more successes and a variety amongst Samoan entrepreneurs especially when they negotiate the requirements of both fa’a-sāmoa in conjunction with the institutional and the regulatory responsibilities of the New Zealand business environment. The implications of these findings would be valuable for other migrant operated businesses in New Zealand.