Facilitating Refugee Entrepreneurship Through Capability Approach Based Business Support: An Action Research

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Since entrepreneurship is hindered as a major form of economic activity for refugees in host countries, a number of refugee business support initiatives have emerged globally. The refugee entrepreneurship literature demonstrates that the limited socio-economic circumstances of refugees create distinctive barriers to their entrepreneurship, whereas the literature on business support ignores these needs. This knowledge gap may result in refugees being perpetuated in their precarious economic situation by inappropriate support, as well as wasting social resources. Hence, this study conceptualises the refugee business support (RBS) based on the 'capability approach' (CA). In addition to explaining how refugees' distinct needs are shaped by their integration journeys, this framework defines the nature and embodiments of practically-adequate refugee business support. A two-cycle research-orientated action research (RO-AR) is conducted to implement the CA-based RBS in practice and develop its theoretical constructs.

Throughout the RO-AR, 105 in-depth interviews, 62 participant observations, and five roundtable discussions were collected. To conceptualise the CA-based RBS as a practical-adequate concept, five theoretical constructs were successively calibrated and developed. These include: 1) integration-informed refugees' entrepreneurial needs; 2) refugees' three distinctive conditions in RBS; 3) three necessary embodiments of practically-adequate RBS (integration-informed diagnosis, readiness building, and capability building); 4) impact of practically-adequate RBS: reciprocal enhancement of integration and entrepreneurship, 5) keys to sustain and develop three necessary organisational capacities (relational, integration knowledge, and business support capacities) for delivering practically-adequate RBS. As a result of the formation of these five theoretical constructs, CA-based RBS as a practically-adequate concept is revealed to be sensitive to the interconnections between refugees' integration journeys and entrepreneurial activities. The identification and incorporation of the interconnections not only shapes the provision of practically-adequate support and the development of corresponding organisational capacities, but also overcomes the neglect of refugees’ needs in the existing knowledge system of business support.
Date of AwardOct 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMonder Ram (Supervisor) & Eva Kašperová (Supervisor)


  • refugee entrepreneurship
  • business support
  • refugee business support
  • capability approach
  • action research
  • refugee integration
  • research-oriented action research
  • business support organisation

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