Penn Collaborative Study Explores Indian-American Entrepreneurship

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | | 215-898-6460June 7, 2012

The success stories of immigrants coming to America are legion.

William Morris of the famed William Morris talent agency (now WME) came to America from Germany.  Newspaper editor Joseph Pulitzer of Pulitzer Prize fame hailed from Hungary.  Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in Austria. 

In the past 20 years, many of the entrepreneurs making a mark on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley are from India.

Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Advanced Study of India and at the University of California, Santa Cruz, are conducting a joint research project on Indian-American immigrant and non-immigrant entrepreneurs.  

The study focuses on Indian-American entrepreneurs to identify mechanisms they employ to enhance their business ties to India and business creation in India.

At the beginning of the year, researchers distributed an online survey to company databases of Indian-American and other entrepreneurs in the United States.  The survey has been designed to explore “the nature of financial and human capital linkages between the United States and India” in greater depth than previous work. The survey covers differences between first- and second-generation immigrants regarding motivations and goals, triggers for business ideas and the role of ethnic and professional networks. 

"While there have been many qualitative studies that have chronicled the stories and successes of these entrepreneurs, our aim is to conduct the first systematic quantitative analysis of this group,” says CASI Director Devesh Kapur, who holds Penn’s Madan Lal Sobti Associate Professorship for the Study of Contemporary India.

The survey is available to the public at  Existing and aspiring entrepreneurs, regardless of their ethnicity, are encouraged to spend 15 minutes to take the survey.  At the end of the questionnaire, participants can enter a raffle for a chance to win an iPad.

"This survey will help measure the characteristics and economic impact of Indian-American entrepreneurs in the U.S. and their contributions to financial and knowledge linkages between the U.S. and India," Kapur says.

Kapur’s study collaborators are Nirvikar Singh, co-director of the Sury Initiative on Global Finance and International Risk Management at UC, Santa Cruz, and Robert W. Fairlie, creator of the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity at UC, Santa Cruz.

The research project is funded by a grant from the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs of the Government of India.