In this paper we examine how foreign actors capitalize on their ethnic identity to gain skills and capabilities that enable them to operate in a new and strange environment. We explore the mechanisms by which Bulgarian entrepreneurs in London use their ethnic identity to develop competitive advantage and business contacts. We find that the entrepreneurs studied gain access to a diaspora network, which enables them to develop essential business capabilities and integrate knowledge from both home and host country environments. The diaspora community possesses a collective asset (transactive memory) that allows its members to remove competition from the interfirm level to the network level (i.e., diaspora networks vs. networks of native businesspeople). Additionally, the cultural identity and networks to which community members have access provide bridging capabilities that allow diaspora businesspeople to make links to host country business partners and thus embed themselves in the host country environment. Thus, this paper adds to the growing body of work showing how foreignness can serve as an asset in addition to its better-known role as a liability.
- transactive Memory