Transnational Entrepreneurship

Transnational entrepreneurs are migrants who create a business while maintaining the business-related linkage between different countries (mostly their home and host countries). Different types of people can engage in transnational entrepreneurial activities, including highly-skilled migrants, labor migrants, expatriates & repatriates, refugees, returnees, and the diaspora. Due to the globalization and the recent technological advancement in the communication and transportation industries, the number of global migrants has drastically increased over the last decades, and the nature and the forms of migration have become more and more diverse. Migrants have unique human and social capital in different geographical locations and are able to combine it through their rich cognitive capacity to create idiosyncratic entrepreneurial value in a transnational setting.

Since 2012, LEMEX has been investigating diverse aspects of transnational entrepreneurship. Starting with the organization of a series of ZenTra workshops, LEMEX has contributed to the emergence and formation of a regional and global network of researchers who are interested in this topic. From 2015 on, LEMEX has (co-)organized international conferences, as well as workshops on Migration and Diaspora Entrepreneurship (MDE) in Bremen

In the last few years, several researchers at LEMEX, as well as a number of bachelor and master students have researched transnational entrepreneurship from diverse points of view. Some examples of research projects are as follows:

  • The roles of transnational entrepreneurs in the emergence and the early-development of entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • Transnational business models – unique value creation of migrant entrepreneurs in transnational settings
  • The first- and second-generation migrants in Germany (Vietnamese and Turkish migrants)
  • Challenges of transnational entrepreneurship in selected countries (e.g. Ghana, Peru)
  • Socio-economic determinants of entrepreneurs who migrate from developed countries to emerging/developing countries (Japanese diaspora)

From 2015, LEMEX started investigating refugee entrepreneurship. Germany has received one of the largest numbers of asylum seekers due to the recent refugee crisis on a global scale. Researchers at LEMEX investigate the socio-psychological factors of refugee entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial support for refugees such as accelerators and incubators in Germany. Since 2017, LEMEX has been involved in the  Erasmus+ VIFRE project (Virtual Incubator for Refugee Entrepreneurs).


Contributions to this topic:

  • Freiling, J. (2023). On the Cultural Sphere of Transnational Entrepreneurship: Evidence from Digital Business Development of African Entrepreneurs, African Development Perspectives Yearbook 2022/2023: Business Opportunities, Startups, and Digital Transformation in Africa 23(1), 119-154

  • Evansluong, Q., Beata, G., Freiling, J., Ramírez-Pasillas, M., Dana, L.P. (2023). Past, Present and Future Changes in Migrant Entrepreneurship Landscape, Journal of Organizational Change Management

  • Yeshi, T.; Harima, A.; Freiling, J. (2022). Resilience on an emotional rollercoaster: Refugee entrepreneurship under adversity. European Management Journal,

  • Freiling, J. (2022). Transnational Entrepreneurship and the Role of Cultural Distance: Case Study Research on African Transnational Entrepreneurs. Problemy Zarządzania (Management Issues), 20(1), 11–42.

  • Harima, A. (2022). Transnational migration entrepreneurship during a crisis: Immediate response to challenges and opportunities emerging through the COVID‐19 pandemic. Business and Society Review

  • Harima, A., & Baron, T. (2020). Is this Transnational Entrepreneurship? Five Cases in Which It Is Hard to Say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Emerging Economies, 6(1), 12-40.

  • Freiling, J., & Harima, A. (2019). Tackling the Heterogeneity – Migration and Diaspora Entrepreneurship. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 23(6), 539-558.

  • Phuong, Q.D., & Harima, A. (2019). The Impact of Cultural Values on Vietnamese Ethnic Entrepreneurs in Germany. Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management, and Innovation, 15(2), 85-115.

Quynh Duong Phuong

Foto Quynh Duong Phuong

Dr. Thomas Baron

Tenzin Yeshi

Foto Tenzin Yeshi