The Vulnerability and Strength Duality in Ethnic Business: A Model of Stakeholder Salience and Social Capital

Alejandra Marin, Ronald K. Mitchell, Jae Hwan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Managers in ethnic businesses are confronted with ethical dilemmas when taking action based on ethnic ties; and often as a result, they increase the already vulnerable positions of these businesses and their stakeholders. Many of these dilemmas concern the capital that is generated (or the lack of it) through variations in the use of ethnic stakeholder social ties. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a stakeholder-based model of social capital formation, mediated by various forms of ethnic ties, to explore the duality of ethnicity: it can aid and hinder an ethnic business. Drawing upon the social capital/economic development, stakeholder salience, ethnic businesses literatures, and (to some extent) on social identity theory, we develop a cyclical model of relationships among ethnic business stakeholder attributes (ethnic kinship-based power, ethnic-moral legitimacy, and ethnic-critical urgency) and social capital, as mediated by three-way (triadic) Simmelian bonding and bridging ties, which then, in turn, affects the ethnic stakeholder attributes. We argue that the development of bridging yet strong ties through this cyclical process is relevant for the improvement of the positions of ethnic businesses in terms of both economic success and social responsibility. Specifically, we suggest that, given the duality of ethnicity in business, managers can prioritize stakeholder relationships based upon how these stakeholder ties affect social capital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-289
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 6 2015


  • Ethnic business
  • Ethnic-based social dilemmas
  • Simmelian ties
  • Social capital
  • Stakeholder salience


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