Footloose and fancy-free: Sojourning entrepreneurs in China

Tamar Almor, Orly Yeheskel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the paper is witnessing a new phenomenon of international entrepreneurship; skilled entrepreneurs from developed countries are temporarily moving to emerging economies in order to pursue business opportunities. While anecdotal evidence exists, very little theoretical development has taken place so far to explain to this phenomenon. The paper presents two short cases based on such anecdotal evidence. These cases form the basis for the development of a conceptual framework which entails a profile of entrepreneurs who have the ability to establish and operate new business ventures in an emerging economy which is characterized by a high psychic distance. Design/methodology/approach: Using Siu's work on immigrant laborers, the paper suggests that skilled, professional entrepreneurs from Israel, who seek business opportunities in China, have a profile that differs from typical immigrant entrepreneurs described in literature and is closer to the immigrant laborers described by Siu and the paper suggests therefore naming them "sojourning entrepreneurs". Findings: These entrepreneurs have the ability to overcome liability of foreignness, without integrating in the host society, and without becoming part of the local culture and the ability to engage both networks in the home country and in the host country to further the entrepreneurial venture in the host country. The paper poses that these foreign entrepreneurs will be more successful in China when using strategic alliances and that they will be more successful if they are able to leverage their foreignness temporarily and become liaisons and mediators between agents in the home and in the host country. Originality/value: If, as posed, these entrepreneurs will indeed be more successful in China when using alliances rather than WOFEs and if their unique capabilities enable them to become liaisons and mediators, this line of research can lead to guidelines for such entrepreneurs as well as for the Chinese Government. The paper expects that in the Chinese century, more entrepreneurs will be footloose and fancy-free and exploit opportunities in globally emerging markets and they will be in need of guidelines based on empirical research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-372
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Enterprising Communities
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • International entrepreneurship
  • Israel
  • Sojourning entrepreneurs


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