Exploring the entrepreneurial intentions of Syrian refugees in the UK

Suzanne Mawson, Laila Kasem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose Few studies have sought to explore the issue of entrepreneurial intention within refugees, despite wide recognition of refugee entrepreneurial potential. This paper explores entrepreneurial intention amongst recently arrived Syrian refugees in the UK, including the role that the migration experience plays in shaping these intentions. Design/methodology/approach This paper follows an interpretive phenomenological research approach, contextualised within the entrepreneurial intention literature. It draws on data collected from in-depth interviews with 9 Syrian refugees, five of whom arrived independently and four of whom arrived via the UK Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement (VPR) Programme. Findings All participants were found to have strong perceptions of desirability towards entrepreneurship. Individuals who arrived independently demonstrated more confidence in their abilities, and in turn somewhat stronger start-up intentions. The findings indicate that the personal development of independent refugee arrivals linked to their migration experiences may help shape the intention to engage in entrepreneurship. Research limitations As this paper draws on a small sample in a single geographic location, the findings presented are phenomenological, context specific and not necessarily applicable to other spatial locations or to other (refugee) groups. Social implications A number of practical and social implications are provided. Support interventions focused on strengthening the perceived abilities and capabilities of refugees would be of considerable benefit. Originality/value This paper provides new and important insight into the nature of entrepreneurial intention within a novel focal group. It makes a valuable contribution to the literature by considering issues of context and process, specifically the relationship between personal forced migration experience and the perceived capability to start a business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1128-1146
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2019


  • entrepreneurship
  • refugees
  • latent entrepreneurs
  • start-ups
  • UK


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