Interview with Elizabeth Salamanca

Elizabeth Salamanca and Jorge Alcaraz recently completed a study on highly skilled Mexican immigrants and their potential to generate significant economic and social benefits to both Texas and Mexico. Mexican entrepreneurs’ relocation to the U.S. has significantly increased. Their findings support transforming migration into a less damaging process to create favorable opportunities for the social and entrepreneurial ecosystem of both the U.S. and Mexico.

We spoke with Elizabeth to learn more about why they chose this topic and what surprised them during their research.

Elizabeth Salamanca

Would you provide us with some information about why you chose this topic?

My coauthor Jorge Alcaraz and I chose this topic because entrepreneurial migration from Mexico to the U.S. has had a remarkable increase as shown by the number of U.S. investor visas (E1/E2/EB-5) granted to Mexican citizens, which according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, mounted from 7,503 in 2006 to 65,625 in 2016. Besides, even though there is a vast literature on high-skilled migration, studies on entrepreneurial migration are still scarce, particularly in the case of high-skilled migrant entrepreneurs. Thus, we know little about their profile, motivations and the obstacles they encounter to undertake their business ventures.

When you originally began your research, did it result in the conclusion you had hypothesized?

Since our research was of a qualitative nature, we did not state formal hypotheses. Nonetheless, based on previous exploratory studies that we had conducted, we were expecting to identify groups of high-skilled Mexican migrant entrepreneurs with a very different profile between them. Our findings confirmed the heterogeneity of Mexican migrant entrepreneurs in terms of their personal resources, pre-migration conditions, and motivations.

Jorge Alcaraz
Jorge Alcaraz

What did you find that surprised you or stood out to you?

Although we were expecting to find such heterogeneity, what stood out our attention was the number of categories (7) of migrant entrepreneurs identified that was much bigger than we were expecting. This number responds not only to demographic differences (age, gender, civil status, income) among entrepreneurs but also to the reasons that led them to move from Mexico to the U.S., and to the personal and financial resources they bring with them when arriving in the U.S. It was interesting for us to find out that all these factors affect migrant entrepreneurs ‘level of integration in the host society, splitting them into different groups or categories.

To read the full report, go here.

Elizabeth Salamanca, Ph.D., is a nonresident scholar for the Center for the United States and Mexico at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, a summer 2016 and summer 2015 Puentes Visiting Scholar, and a professor at the School of Business and Economics at the University of the Americas Puebla (UDLAP). Her research interests focus on migration issues and Latin American emerging markets.

Jorge Alcaraz is a professor of International Business at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali in the Management Organizations Department. He holds a Doctorate in International Business from the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo, Mexico. He was visiting scholar at Columbia University. His main research interest is in the different factors affecting the global strategy of enterprises from emerging economies, particularly from Latin America.



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