Barriers to immigrant entrepreneurship: A causal relationship analysis of the Asian immigrant entrepreneurs in Germany employing the DEMATEL approach




immigrant entrepreneurship, causal relationship, immigrant barriers, DEMATEL method


Research background: Entrepreneurship and migration are top priorities on many national and international agendas. As a result, entrepreneurship is one of the most popular strategies immigrants use to avoid unemployment in a host country. However, studies lack to discuss causal relationships among key barriers to immigrant entrepreneurs.

Purpose of the article: This study attempts to fill the knowledge gap and investigate the causal relationship between the primary obstacles faced by Asian immigrant entrepreneurs in Germany.

Methods: A predesigned questionnaire was used in face-to-face interviews with Asian business owners in Germany for the study, and the Decision-Making Trial and Evaluation Laboratory (DEMATEL) method of data analysis was used.

Findings & value added: The findings reveal that lack of sufficient financial resources to establish a business, high market competition, and a lack of knowledge of the local language of the host country are the most significant barriers, among others, which may severely hamper Asian immigrant business performance and have a considerable impact on their entrepreneurial decision. At the same time, lack of professional knowledge & skills, problems with rules & regulations, and cultural differences are among the least essential obstacles for Asian immigrant entrepreneurs. The findings show that unfamiliarity with the local language, problems with rules and regulations, cultural differences, and lack of international business experience are associated with the causer category. However, lack of enough capital to establish a venture, lack of professional knowledge and skills, difficulty in access to financial resources, and high market competition relate to the receiver category. This research generates value for policymakers, particularly those participating in migration studies. One of the study's novelties is using the DEMATEL framework for decision-making on barriers to immigrant entrepreneurship in the European context.


Download data is not yet available.


Addae, B. A, Zhang, L., Zhao, P., & Wang, F. (2019). Analysing barriers of smart energy city in Accra with two-step fuzzy DEMATEL. Cities, 89, 218–227. doi: 10.1016/j.cities.2019.01.043.

Agoh, E. T., & Kumpikaite-Valiuniene, V. (2018). Theoretical analysis of migrant motivations to entrepreneurship. International Entrepreneurship Review, 4(3), 29–46.

Andoh, R. C, Berrones-Flemmig, C. N., & Dornberger, U. (2019). Ghanaian immi-grant entrepreneurs in Germany: Motivations and contributions for develop-ment. Problemy Zarzadzania – Management Issue, 17(1), 130–158. doi: 10.7172/1644-9584.81.7.

Ashourizadeh, S. Saeedikiya, M. Aeeni, Z., & Temiz, S. (2022). Formal sources of finance boost innovation: Do immigrant entrepreneurs benefit as much as natives? Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 10(2), 41–59. doi: 10.15678/ EBER.2022.100203.

Apostol, S. (2022). The early-stage entrepreneurial activity of women in individu-alistic versus collectivist country groups: Motives, drivers and inhibitors. Economics and Sociology, 15(4), 146–167. doi: 10.14254/2071-789X.2022/15-4/7.

Azmat, F. (2013). Opportunities or obstacles? Understanding the challenges faced by migrant women entrepreneurs. International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, 5(2), 198–215. doi: 10.1108/17566261311328855.

Baycan-Levent, T., & Kundak, S. (2009). Motivation and driving forces of Turkish entrepreneurs in Switzerland. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 22(3), 283–308. doi: 10.1080/13511610903383710.

Baycan-Levant, T., & Nijkamp, P. (2009). Characteristics of migrant entrepreneur-ship in Europe. Journal of Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 21(4), 375–397. doi: 10.1080/08985620903020060.

Campbell, S., Greenwood, M. Prior, S., Shearer, T., Walkem, K., Young, S., By-waters, D., & Walker, K. (2020). Purposive sampling: Complex or simple? Re-search case examples. Journal of Research in Nursing, 25(8), 1–10. doi: 10.1177/ 1744987120927206.

Castillo-Palacio, M., Batista-Canino, R. M., & Zuniga-Collazos, A. (2017). The relationship between culture and entrepreneurship: From cultural dimensions of GLOBE Project. Revista ESPACIOS, 38(34), 1–15.

Çera, G., Khan, K. A., Bláhová, A., & Belas, Jr., J. (2022). Do owner-manager de-mographics in SMEs matter for corporate social responsibility?. Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, 17(2), 511–531. doi: 10.24136 /eq.2022.018.

Chen, Y., Zhou, R., & Zhou, Y. (2022). Analysis of critical factors for entrepre-neurship in industries of the future based on DEMATEL-ISM ap-proach. Sustainability, 14(24), 1–21. doi: 10.3390/su142416812.

Civelek, M., Ključnikov, A., Fialova, V., Folvarčná, A., & Stoch, M. (2021). How innovativeness of family-owned SMEs differ depending on their characteris-tics?. Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, 16(2), 413–428. doi: 10.24136/eq.2021.015.

Collins, J., & Low, A. (2010). Asian female immigrant entrepreneurs in small and medium-sized businesses in Australia. Journal of Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 22(1), 97–111. doi: 10.1080/08985620903220553.

Dabić, M., Vlacic, B., Paul, J., Dana, L-P., Sahasranaman, S., & Blinka, B. (2020). Immigrant entrepreneurship: A review and research agenda. Journal of Business Research, 113, 25–38. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.03.013.

Del-Aguila-Arcentales, S., Alvarez-Risco, A., & Villalobos-Alvarez, D. (2022). Ven-ezuelan migrants in Peru and their entrepreneurial intention during the Covid-19 pandemic. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 10(4), 7–22. doi: 10.15678/EBER.2022.100401.

Dimken, F. C., & Tas, Y. (2018). Applying DEMATEL approach to determine fac-tors affecting hospital service quality in a university hospital: A case study. Journal of Administrative Sciences, 16(32), 11–28.

Dizbay, I. E., & Öztürko G. O. (2020). Determining significant factors affecting vaccine demand and factor relationships using the fuzzy DEMATEL method. International Conference on Intelligent and Fuzzy Systems, 1197, 682–689. doi: 10.10 07/978-3-030-51156-2_79.

Duan, C., Kotey, B., & Sandu, K. (2021). A systematic literature review of deter-minants of immigrant entrepreneurship motivations. Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/08276331.2021.1997 490.

Elmassah, S., James, R., & Bacheer, S.M. (2022). Ethnic entrepreneurial success factors: Evidence from the United Arab Emirates. Heliyon, 8, 1–11. doi: 10.1016/j.he liyon.2022.e09639.

Embiricos, A. (2020). From refugee to entrepreneur? Challenges to refugee self-reliance in Berlin, Germany. Journal of Refugee Studies, 33(1), 246–267. doi: 10.109 3/jrs/fez073.

European Commission (2023). The entrepreneurial action plan 2020. Retrieved from /migrant-entrepreneurs_en.

Fatoki, O., & Patswawairi, T. (2012). The motivations and obstacles to immigrant entrepreneurship in South Africa. Journal of Social Sciences, 32(2), 133–142. doi: 10.1080/09718923.2012.11893059.

Feng, C., & Ma, R. (2020). Identification of the factors that influence service inno-vation in manufacturing enterprises by using the fuzzy DEMATEL method. Journal of Cleaner Production, 253, 1–12. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.120002.

Fozia, M., & Ranabahu, N. (2022). A disadvantage to an advantage: Immigrants entrepreneurs' use of the effectuation in business start-up and development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In L. P. Dana, N. Khachlouf, A. Maalaoui & V.Ratten (Eds). Disadvantaged minorities in business. Contributions to management science (pp. 153–177). Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-97079-6_7.

Golob, T., Kleindienst, P., Makarovič, M., & Kildi, J. M. (2020). Challenges of migrant entrepreneurship in selected regions of central Europe. Comparative Sociology, 19(4-5), 609–631. doi: 10.1163/15691330-BJA10021.

Gupta, N., Vrat, P., & Ojha, R. (2022). Prioritizing enablers for service quality in healthcare sector – a DEMATEL approach. Journal of Health Organization and Management, 36(5), 633–649. doi: 10.1108/JHOM-06-2021-0222.

Hashemi, S. S, Mahdiraji, A. H, Azari, M., & Hajiagha, R. H. S. (2022). Causal modeling of failure fears for international entrepreneurs in the tourism indus-try: A hybrid Delphi-DEMATEL based approach. International Journal of Entre-preneurial Behaviour & Research, 28(3), 602–627. doi: 10.1108/IJEBR-03-2021-0193.

Hillmann, F. (2021). Coming of age: Migrant economies and social policies in Germany. Cosmopolitan civil societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 13(3), 1–17. doi: 10.5130/ccs.v13.i3.7928.

Ključnikov, A., Civelek, M., Fialova, V., & Folvarčná, A. (2021). Organizational, local, and global innovativeness of family-owned SMEs depending on firm-individual level characteristics: evidence from the Czech Republic. Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, 16(1), 169–184. doi: 10.24136/ eq.2021.006.

Ključnikov , A., Civelek, M., Klimeš, C., & Farana, R. (2022). Export risk percep-tions of SMEs in selected Visegrad countries. Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, 17(1), 173–190. doi: 10.24136/eq.2022.007.

Kloosterman, R. C. (2003). Creating opportunities. Policies aimed at increasing openings for immigrant entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. Journal of Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 15(2), 167–181. doi: 10.1080/089856203 2000075159.

Kordestani, A., Sattari, S., Peighambari, K., & Oghazi, P. (2017). Exclude me not: The untold story of immigrant entrepreneurs in Sweden. Journal of Sustainabil-ity, 9, 1–22. doi: 10.3390/su9091584.

Kubiciel-Lodzińska, S., Maj, J., & David, A. (2023). How to attract migrant entre-preneurs to peripheral regions? Evidence from Poland. International Entrepreneurship Review, 9(1), 27–41. doi: 10.15678/IER.2023.0901.03.

Kumar, A., Kaviani, M.A., Bottani, E., Dash M. K., & Zavadskas, E. K. (2018). Investigating the role of social media in polio prevention in India: A Delphi-DEMATEL approach. Kybernetes, 47(5), 1053–1072. doi: 10.1108/K-06-2017-0210.

Lisi, S., You, X –Y, Liu, H.-C., & Zang, P. (2018). DEMATEL Technique: A system-atic review of the state-of-the-art literature on methodologies and applications. Hindawi Mathematical Problems in Engineering, 14, 1–33. doi: 10.1155/2018/369 6457.

Lolat, I., & Davidaviciene, V. (2016). Migrant entrepreneurship in Europe: Chal-lenges and opportunities. In 9th International scientific conference business and ,anagement (pp. 1–10). Vilnius: Vilnius Tech.

Malki, B., Uman, T., & Pittino, D. (2020). The entrepreneurial financing of the immigrant entrepreneurs: A literature review. Small Business Economy, 58, 1337–1365. doi: 10.1007/s11187-020-00444-7.

Maqbool, A., & Khan, N. Z. (2020). Analyzing barriers for implementation of public health and social measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 disease using the DEMATEL method. Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research and Reviews, 14(5), 887–892. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2020.06.024.

Mishchuk, H., Roshchyk, I. Sułkowska, J., & Vojtovič, S. (2019). Prospects of as-sessing the impact of external student migration on restoring the country's in-tellectual potential (case study of Ukraine). Economics & Sociology, 12(3), 209–219. doi: 10.14254/2071-789X.2019/12-3/14

Naudé, W., Siegel, M., & Marchand, K. (2017). Migration, entrepreneurship, and development: Critical questions. IZA Journal of Development and Migration, 6(5), 1–16. doi: 10.1186/s40176-016-0077-8.

Nijhoff, K. (2021). Refugees starting a business: experiences of barriers and needs in the Netherlands. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 28(7), 1057–1074. doi: 10.1108/JSBED-09-2020-0314.

Nilashi, M., Samad, S., Manaf, A. A., Ahmadi, H., Rashid, T. A., Munshi, A., Almukadi, W., Ibrahim, O., & Ahmed, O. H. (2019). Factors influencing medi-cal tourism adoption in Malaysia: A DEMATEL-Fuzzy TOPSIS approach. Computers and Industrial Engineering, 137, 1–11. doi: 10.1016/j.cie.2019.106005.

Oliinyk, O., Mishchuk, H., Bilan, Y., & Skare, M. (2022). Integrated assessment of the attractiveness of the EU for intellectual immigrants: A taxonomy-based approach. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 182, 121805. doi: 10.1016/j. techfore.2022.121805.

Quinones, R. S., Caladcad, J. A. A., Himang, C. M., Quinones, H. G., Castro, C. J., Caballes, S. A. A., Anbellana, D. P. M., Jailles, E. M. Y., & Ocampo, L. A. (2020). Using Delphi and fuzzy DEMATEL for analyzing the intertwined rela-tionships of the barriers of university technology transfer: Evidence from a developing economy. International Journal of Innovation Studies, 4(3), 85–104. doi: 10.1016/j.ijis.2020.07.002.

Sabary, G. S., Durda, L., Asad, A. I., & Ključnikov, A. (2023). Key motivational factors behind Asian immigrant entrepreneurship: A causal relationship anal-ysis employing the DEMATEL approach for Germany. Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, 18(1), 287–318. doi: 10.24136/eq.2023.009.

Raghuvanshi, J., Agrawal, R., & Ghosh, P. K. (2017). Analysis of barriers to wom-en entrepreneurship: The DEMATEL approach. Journal of Entrepreneurship, 26(2), 220–238. doi: 10.1177/0971355717708848.

Salehi, R., Asaadi, M. A., Rahimi, M. H., & Mehrabi, A. (2020). The information technology barriers in the supply chain of sugarcane in Khuzestan province, Iran: A combined ANP-DEMATEL approach. Information Processing in Agriculture, 8(3), 458–468. doi: 10.1016/j.inpa.2020.09.005.

Schmich, M., & Mitra, J. (2023). Can entrepreneurship enable economic and social Integration of refugees? A comparison of the economic, social, and policy con-text for refugee entrepreneurship in the UK and Germany. Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Emerging Economies, 9(1), 9–32. doi: 10.1177/23 9395752 21146848.

Sekar, S., & Zavadskas, E.K. (2017). Application of fuzzy DEMATEL method for analysing occupational risks on construction sites. Journal of Sustainability, 9(11), 1–19. doi: 10.3390/su9112083.

Reuber, A. R., & Sinkovics, N. (2021). Beyond disciplinary silos: A systematic analysis of the migrant entrepreneurship literature. Journal of World Business, 56, 1–21. doi: 10.1016/j.jwb.2021.101223.

Shen, Y.-C. (2016). Identifying the key barriers and their interrelationships imped-ing the university technology transfer in Taiwan: A multi-stakeholder perspec-tive. Quality and Quantity, 51(6), 2865–2884. doi: 10.1007/s11135-016-0450-y.

Sing, K. R., & Acharya, P. (2014). Identification and evaluation of supply chain flexibilities in Indian FMCG sector using DEMATEL. Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management, 15(2), 91–100. doi: 10.1007/s40171-013-0050-9.

Song, W., Zhu, Y., & Zhao, Q. (2020). Analysing barriers for adopting sustainable online consumption: A rough hierarchical DEMATEL method. Computers and Industrial Engineering, 140, 1–12. doi: 10.1016/j.cie.2020.106279.

Statistics How To (2023). What is expert sampling? Retrieved from www.statistics (29.01.2023).

Teixeira, C., Lo, L., & Truelove, M. (2017). Immigrant entrepreneurship, institu-tional discrimination, and implications for public policy: A case study in To-ronto. Journal of Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 25, 176–193. doi: 10.1068/c18r.

Wąsikiewicz-Firlej, E. (2021). Language and education policy as one of the main challenges of migrant integration in Poland. Glottodidactica, 48(2), 111–129. doi: 10.14746/gl.2021.48.2.07.

Wassink, J. (2020). International migration experience and entrepreneurship: Evidence from Mexico. World Development, 136, 1–15. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2020. 105077.

Xu, C., Wu, Y., & Dai, S. (2020). What are the critical barriers to the development of hydrogen refuelling stations in China? A modified fuzzy DEMATEL ap-proach. Energy Policy, 142, 1–14. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2020.111495.

Yang, X., & Lin, X. (2021). Overcoming informal barriers to trade: Immigrant edu-cational attainment vs. network competence. International Business Review, 31, 1–13. doi: 10.1016/j.ibusrev.2021.101918.

Zhai, Q., & Su, J. (2019). A perfect couple? Institutional theory and entrepreneur-ship research. Chinese Management Studies, 13(3), 616–644. doi: 10.1108/CMS-07-2017-0194.




How to Cite

Sabary, G. S., & Ključnikov, A. (2023). Barriers to immigrant entrepreneurship: A causal relationship analysis of the Asian immigrant entrepreneurs in Germany employing the DEMATEL approach. Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, 18(2), 491–522.