Migrant Entrepreneurs and the Digital Economy in the UK

Narayan Bhattarai

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The primary objective of this thesis is to investigate how migrant entrepreneurs in professional services manage their human capital to adapt, innovate and network. Most previous studies have focused exclusively on low-skilled migrant entrepreneurs, and research on migrants in professional services has been very limited. Looking at the different experiences of Nepalese migrant entrepreneurs in the UK, this study explores the transformation of their human capital related to their knowledge, experience and socio-cultural and economic capital in a quest for better businesses and improved lives to answer the following three questions: how migrant entrepreneurs in professional services can adapt their human capital to new host environments, how they transform their human capital to build innovation capacity for the digital age and how human capital relates to building a network for transnational and circular entrepreneurship.
Thirty-one Nepalese migrant entrepreneurs in professional services who have set up their own businesses in the UK in the sectors of engineering, accounting, law, information technology (IT), health, education and money remittance services were interviewed between April to August 2018 using semi-structured interviews. Respondents were selected by means of theoretical and snowball sampling. During the second stage, revisit interviews to twenty- four entrepreneurs in September and October 2018 were undertaken. Additionally, a third stage included a focus group discussion with eight entrepreneurs in March 2019. This longitudinal approach to three interview stages was adapted to capture not only constructs but also processes to corroborate the findings from each stage and to ensure research rigour.
The thesis contributes to three theoretical avenues. First, it conceptualises on the process of talent adaptation in human capital theory. Second, the circular relationships between innovation, knowledge transformation and digital inclusion play an important role for human capital adaptation in the digital age. Third, the duality of networking processes and relationships is identified as a core mechanism of human capital transformation in home-host migrant entrepreneurship. Through these contributions, this thesis extends the definition of migrant entrepreneurs in its methodology and scope by focusing on those working in professional services, their human capital and the complex environment around them.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Robson, Paul, Supervisor
  • Kromidha, Endrit, Supervisor
Award date1 Feb 2021
Publication statusUnpublished - 20 Jan 2020


  • Digital innovation, Talent adaptation, Transnationalism, Circular network, Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, Digital inclusion, Human capital transformation, Professional Entrepreneurs, Nepalese diaspora, Integration, Acculturation, Assimilation, Technology adoption, Home country, Host country

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