From education to employment

Immigrants make better entrepreneurs: Character and resilience are key to social mobility

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Having a go at new activities and learning from failure boosts character and resilience, Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced last month. 

A new advisory group of experts in character education has been set up to look at how best to support schools to run more activities, which will help build character and resilience.

It is due to this combination of learnt resilience and ‘get-up-and-go’ character that immigrants make better entrepreneurs than native citizens says Adrian Furnham, professor of leadership and organisational behaviour at BI Norwegian Business School

Resilience makes immigrants better entrepreneurs

Over the last 20 years, 25% of all American venture backed companies have been created by immigrants. These people face barrier after barrier when relocating to a new place and have to overcome each hurdle using only their own ability.

A wealth of research indicates that those who choose to migrate tend to be different from those who don’t. They have a different pattern of motivation, abilities and adjustment. They are hungrier and more risk taking, with thicker skins.

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They become used to experiencing hardship and rejection, which are setbacks that all entrepreneurs must endure.

Entrepreneurial migrants

This is why talent scouts are going to top universities and business schools in Asia to encourage the best students to come to their country. Those who agree to migrate show signs of entrepreneurial flair simply in their willingness to take on the challenge of moving.

These entrepreneurial migrants are most commonly found in the technology and engineering sectors. There are around 500 start-ups with French founders just in the San Francisco Bay area of California.

Social support networks

It’s worth remembering that once they’ve relocated most migrants also benefit from small but passionate social support networks.

Immigrants create hubs within foreign countries and feel obliged to help each other succeed against the odds. Often, they can be counted on to provide reliable temporary workers when a fellow migrant entrepreneur hits hard times

Adrian Furnham, Professor of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour, BI Norwegian Business School

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