Ethnic foundations of economic transactions: Mexican and Korean immigrant entrepreneurs in Chicago

Rebeca Raijman, Marta Tienda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although researchers have chronicled the high rate of entrepreneurship in Chicago among recent Asian immigrants, especially Koreans, few studies examine groups with low rates of self-employment, such as Mexicans. In this article we analyzed a unique survey of business owners operating in an immigrant community to identify circumstances that help and hinder entrepreneurship by comparing the experiences of Mexicans, with those of Koreans. We find that Korean and Mexican business owners draw on thinner ethnic social networks and do not reap similar advantages from co-ethnic business dealings. Until Mexicans consolidate a market niche, their opportunities to benefit from ethnic vertical integration will remain limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-801
Number of pages19
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation to the Center for the Study of Urban Inequality at the University of Chicago (Marta Tienda, Richard Taub and Robert Townsend, PI’s). We are grateful to Michael F. Maltese for editorial assistance, to Amanda Rowe for technical support, and to Benson Honig for insightful comments.


  • Chicago
  • Ethnic economy
  • Ethnic entrepreneurship
  • Koreans
  • Mexicans
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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