Ethnic Leadership and Involvement Strategies: A Case Study of Ethnic Entrepreneurs
Ethnic diversity has posed a serious challenge to contemporary corporate management. The current case study examines the leadership strategies by which ethnic entrepreneurs build and lead ethnocommunity-based business teams within mainstream network marketing organizations (NMOs) in North America. These strategies are summarized in a 5Es model, which includes envisioning, encouraging, engaging, empowering, and establishing. Ethnic minorities, especially those newly landed immigrants have increasingly become part of the network marketing industry due to various “push and pull” factors. Both individual and institutional barriers “push” immigrants of minority status away from meaningful employment and workplace advancement whereas unique social and cultural heritage offer them advantages in mobilizing ethnocommunity resources. The NMOs provide a vehicle that “pulls” the immigrants to utilize their ethnic resources and establish their own sales organizations with minimum financial investment. Operating ethnic social network and practice cultural practice and leveraging on the mainstream NMO’s business system, the ethnic entrepreneurs in our study present vivid evidence of leadership roles played in a new land that was once thought as impossible. Based on the in depth interviews and ethnographic fieldwork, we examined the entrepreneur’s aspirations and their leadership tactics. We also analyzed the effectiveness of the leadership strategies as well as the challenges facing these entrepreneurs. The findings lead to implications for theory development in the areas of ethnic economy and leadership research, for policy and community initiatives toward building a culturally more inclusive society, and for industries, including those beyond network marketing, that are considering taking a more proactive approach towards the management of an increasingly more diverse work force.
Keywords: Ethnic Leadership, Leadership Strategy, Ethnic Entrepreneur, Ethnocommunity, Network Marketing Organizations
Howard Xiaohua Lin
Professor and Director, Ted Rogers School of Business Management, Ryerson University
Dr. Jian Guan
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Windsor