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Content archived on 2024-04-30

Working on the fringes: immigrant businesses, economic integration and informal practices


Summary-Immigrant businesses are crucial economic nodes in social networks of immigrants linking production and consumers in concrete organisational and spatial ways. These immigrant businesses can also be seen as potential primary nodes of informal activities. As in the wider economy, informal economic activity may sometimes involve criminal activities. The aim of the project is to create an innovative, multi-disciplinary trans-EU network. This network will focus on informal economic activities of immigrants as they may have significant implications for the process of socio-economic integration and, thus, of the social cohesion of the societies within the EU.- Immigrant businesses engaged in informal economic activities are, on the one hand, in breach of the law, but, on the other, they may provide immigrants with better economic opportunities. Policy makers, therefore, have a dilemma.- The international network will compare informal economic activities by taking immigrant entrepreneurship as the strategic starting point. The project entailsa comparison of the role of immigrant businesses in the underground economy as well as an assessment and evaluation of rules and regulations and existing policy approaches related to informal and criminal economic activities in European Union member states and an affiliated member.

The following objectives will be addressed:- How has immigrant entrepreneurship evolved in the last two decades and what are the structural determinants of the observed trends in the selected countries- What kind of profiles of informal economic activities do the immigrant entrepreneurs display? How are they related to activities in the mainstream economy on the one hand, and, on the other, to the regulatory framework (in particular the welfare state) and the enforcement regime?- What significance has to be attributed to these (semi-)informal economic activities in terms of combating social exclusion and socio-economic in corporation?- For policy makers and practitioners, how is the crucial dilemma between up holding the law and facilitating immigrant entrepreneurship approached in the selected countries? What are the underlying determinants and which best practices can be identified for dealing with these issues? In order to meet the objectives, the co-ordinators will:- establish a European network for exchanging knowledge and experiences on the issue of immigrant entrepreneurship on the urban economic fringe;- produce a critical review of the international literature; organise a series of three international conferences for researchers and practitioners;- disseminate the results in a series of three volumes and will also create an Internet site for this purpose; executive summaries will be sent to key national and EU decision makers. This broad, theoretically underpinned, evaluation will significantly contribute to both the formulation and the implementation of fruitful, effective and feasible policies towards informal economic activities. Policy makers and other practitioners will, therefore, be prominent among the end-users benefiting fromthese research endeavours.

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